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The old English Folklore Tales are fast dying out. 
The simplicity of character necessary for the re- 
taining of old memories and beliefs is being lost, 
more rapidly in England, perhaps, than in any other 
part of the world. Our folk are giving up the old 
myths for new ones. Before remorseless " progress," 
and the struggle for existence, the poetry of life is 
being quickly blotted out. In editing this volume 
I have endeavoured to select some of the best speci- 
mens of our Folklore. With regard to the nursery 
tales, I have taken pains to give them as they are 
in the earliest editions I could find. I must say, 
however, that, while I have taken every care to 
alter only as much as was absolutely necessary in 
these tales, some excision and slight alteration has 
at times been required. 

C. J. T. 


A Dissertation on Fairies, 

Nelly the Knocker, .... 

The Three Fools, .... 

Some Merry Tales of the Wise Men of Gotham, 

The Tulip Fairies, .... 

The History of Jack and the Giants, 

The Fairies' Cup, .... 

The White Lady, .... 

A Pleasant and Delightful History of Thomas 

Hickathrift, .... 
The Spectre Coach, .... 
The Baker's Daughter, 

The Fairy Children, .... 
The History of Jack and the Beanstalk, 
Johnny Reed's Cat, .... 
Lame Molly, ..... 
The Brown man of the Moors, 





How the Cobbler cheated the Devil, . . 161 

The Tavistock Witch, . . . .165 

The Worm of Lambton, . . . .168 

The Old Woman and the Crooked Sixpence, . 174 

The Yorkshire Boggart, . . . .177 

TheDuergar, . , . . .181 

The Barn Elves, . . . . .185 

Legends of King Arthur, . . . .187 

Silky, 192 



The earliest mention of Fairies is made by Homer, 
if, that is, his English translator has, in this instance, 
done him justice : — 

" Where round the bed, whence Achelous springs, 
The wat'ry Fairies dance in mazy rings." 

(Iliad, B. xxiv. 617.) 

These Nymphs he supposes to frequent or reside 
in woods, hills, the sea, fountains, grottost etc., 
whence they are peculiarly called Naiads, Dryads 
and Nereids : 

" What sounds are those that gather from the shores, 
The voice of nymphs that haunt the sylvan bowers, 
The fair-hair'd dryads of the shady wood, 
Or azure daughters of the silver flood ?" 

{Odyss. B. vi. 122.) 

The original word, indeed, is nymphs, which, it 
must be confessed, furnishes an accurate idea of the 
fays (fdes or fates) of the ancient French and Italian 
romances ; wherein they are represented as females 
of inexpressible beauty, elegance, and every kind of 

English, . A 


personal accomplishment, united with magic or 
supernatural power; such, for instance, as the 
Calypso of Homer, or the Alcina of Ariosto. Agree- 
ably to this idea it is that Shakespeare makes 
Antony say in allusion to Cleopatra — 

" To this great fairy I '11 commend thy acts," 

meaning this grand assemblage of power and beauty. 
Such, also, is the character of the ancient nymphs, 
spoken of by the Eoman poets, as Virgil, for instance : 

" Fortunatus et ille, deos qui novit agrestes, 
Panaque, Sylvanumque senem, Nyniphasque sorores." 

{Geor. ii. 493.) 

They, likewise, occur in other passages as well as 
in Horace — 

" gelidum nemus 

Nympharuinque leves cum Satyris chori." 

(Carmina, I., O. 1, v. 30.) 

and, still more frequently, in Ovid. 

Not far from Kome, as we are told by Chorier, 
was a place formerly called " Ad Nymphas," and, at 
this day, " Santa Ninfa," which without doubt, he 
adds, in the language of our ancestors, would have 
been called " The Place of Fays " (Eecherches des Anti- 
quitez, de Fienne, Lyon, 1659). 

The word fade, or fde, among the French, is 
derived, according to Du Cange, from the barbarous 
Latin fadus or fada, in Italian fata. Gervase of 
Tilbury, in his Otia Imperialia (D. 3, c. 88), speaks 


of " some of this kind of larvae, which they named 
fadoe, we have heard to be lovers," and in his 
relation of a nocturnal contest between two knights 
(c. 94) he exclaims, "What shall I say? I know 
not if it were a true horse, or if it were a fairy 
(fadus), as men assert." From the Roman de Par- 
tenay, or de Lezignan, MS. Du Cange cites — 

" Le chasfceau fut fait d'une fee 
Si comme il est partout retrait." 

Hence, he says, faerie for spectres : 

" Plusieurs parlant de Guenart, 
Du Lou, de l'Asne, et de Renart, 
De faeries, et de songes, 
De fantosmes, et de mensonges." 

The same Gervase explains the Latin fata {fie, 
French) a divining woman, an enchantress, or a 
witch (D. 3, c. 88). 

Master Wace, in his Histoire des Dues de Normendie 
(confounded by many with the Roman de Ron), 
describing the fountain of Berenton, in Bretagne, 

" En la forest et environ, 
Mais jo ne sais par quel raison 
La scut Ten les f^es veeir, 
Se li Breton nos dient veir, etc." 

(In the forest and around, 
I wot not by what reason found, 
There may a man the fairies spy, 
If Britons do not tell a lie.) 


but it may be difficult to conceive an accurate idea, 
from the mere name, of the popular French fays or 
fairies of the twelfth century. 

In Vienne, in Dauphiny, is Le puit des fies 9 or 
Fairy-well. These fays, it must be confessed, have 
a strong resemblance to the nymphs of the ancients, 
who inhabited caves and fountains. Upon a 
little rock which overlooks the Ehone are three 
round holes which nature alone has formed, al- 
though it seem, at first sight, that art has laboured 
after her. They say that they were formerly 
frequented by Fays ; that they were full of water 
when it rained; and that they there frequently 
took the pleasure of the bath; than which they 
had not one more charming (Chorier, Recherches, 

Pomponius Mela, an eminent geographer, and, in 
point of time, far anterior to Pliny, relates, that 
beyond a mountain in ^Ethiopia, called by the 
Greeks the " High Mountain," burning, he says, with 
perpetual fire, is a hill spread over a long tract by 
extended shores, whence they rather go to see wide 
plains than to behold [the habitations] of Pans and 
Satyrs. Hence, he adds, this opinion received faith, 
that, whereas, in these parts is nothing of culture, 
no seats of inhabitants, no footsteps — a waste soli- 
tude in the day, and a mere waste silence — frequent 
fires shine by night; and camps, as it were, are 
seen widely spread; cymbals and tympans sound; 
and sounding pipes are heard more than human 


(B. 3, c. 9). These invisible essences, however, are 
both anonymous and nondescript. 

The penates of the Eomans, according to honest 
Eeginald Scot, were "the domesticall gods, or 
rather divels, that were said to make men live 
quietlie within doores. But some think that Lares 
are such as trouble private houses. Larvce are said 
to be spirits that walk onelie by night. Vinculi 
terrei are such as was Robin Good-fellowe, that 
would supplie the office of servants, speciallie of 
maides, as to make a fier in the morning, sweepe 
the house, grind mustard and malt, drawe water, etc. 
These also rumble in houses, drawe latches, go up 
and down staiers," etc. (Discoverie of Witchcraft, 
London, 1 5 8 4, p. 5 2 1 ). A more modern writer says 
" The Latins have called the fairies lares and larvce, 
frequenting, as they say, houses, delighting in neatness, 
pinching the slut, and rewarding the good housewife 
with money in her shoe" (Pleasaunt Treatise of Witches, 
1673, p. 53). This, however, is nothing but the 
character of an English fairy applied to the name of 
a Eoman lar or larva. It might have been wished, 
too, that Scot, a man unquestionably of great learn- 
ing, had referred, by name and work and book and 
chapter, to those ancient authors from whom he de- 
rived his information upon the Eoman senates, etc. 

What idea our Saxon ancestors had of the fairy 
which they called celf a word explained by Lye as 
equivalent to lamia, larva, incubus, ephialtes, we are 
utterly at a loss to conceive. 


The nymphs, the satyrs, and the fauns, are 
frequently noticed by the old traditional historians 
of the north ; particularly Saxo-grammaticus, who has 
a curious story of three nymphs of the forest, and 
Hother, King of Sweden and Denmark, being 
apparently the originals of the weird, or wizard, 
sisters of Macbeth (B. 3, p. 39). Others are pre- 
served by Olaus Magnus, who says they had so 
deep]y impressed into the earth, that the place they 
have been used to, having been (apparently) eaten up 
in a circular form with flagrant heat, never brings 
forth fresh grass from the dry turf. This nocturnal 
sport of monsters, he adds, the natives call The 
Dance of the Elves (B. 3, c. 10). 

" In John Milesius any man may reade 
Of divels in Sarmatia honored, 
Call'd Kottri, or Kibaldi ; such as wee 
Pugs and Hob-goblins call. Their dwellings bee 
In corners of old houses least frequented, 
Or beneath stacks of wood : and these convented, 
Make fearfull noise in buttries and in dairies ; 
Robin Goodfellowes some, some call them fairies. 
In solitarie roomes these uprores keepe, 
And beat at dores to wake men from their sleepe ; 
Seeming to force locks, be they ne're so strong, 
And keeping Christmasse gambols all night long. 
Pots, glasses, trenchers, dishes, pannes, and kettles, 
They will make dance about the shelves and settles, 
As if about the kitchen tost and cast, 
Yet in the morning nothing found misplac't." 

(Heywood's Hierarchic of Angells, 1635, fo. p. 574.) 


Milton, a prodigious reader of romance, has, like- 
wise, given an apt idea of the ancient fays — 

" Fairer than famed of old, or fabled since 
Of fairy damsels met in forest wide, 
By knights of Logres, and of Liones, 
Lancelot or Pelleas, or Pellenore." 

These ladies, in fact, are by no means unfrequent 
in those fabulous, it must be confessed, but, at the 
same time, ingenious and entertaining histories ; as, 
for instance, Melusine, or Merlusine, the heroine of a 
very ancient romance in French verse, and who was 
occasionally turned into a serpent ; Morgan-la-fate, 
the reputed half-sister of King Arthur; and the 
Lady of the Lake, so frequently noticed in Sir Thomas 
Malory's old history of that monarch. 

Le Grand is of opinion that what is called Fairy 
comes to us from the Orientals, and that it is their 
gSnies which have produced our fairies ; a species of 
nymphs, of an order superior to those women magi- 
cians, to whom they nevertheless gave the same name. 
In Asia, he says, where the women imprisoned in the 
harems, prove still, beyond the general servitude, 
a particular slavery, the romancers have imagined 
the Peris, who, flying in the air, come to soften their 
captivity, and render them happy (Fabliaux, 12mo. 
i. 112). Whether this be so or not, it is certain 
that we call the aurorce boreales, or active clouds, in 
the night, perry- dancers. 

After all, Sir William Ouseley finds it impossible 


to give an accurate idea of what the Persian poets 
designed by a Perie, this aerial being not resembling 
our fairies. The strongest resemblance he can find 
is in the description of Milton in Camus. The sub- 
lime idea which Milton entertained of a fairy vision 
corresponds rather with that which the Persian 
poets have conceived of the Peries. 

" Their port was more than human as they stood ; 
I took it for a faery vision 
Of some gay creatures of the element, 
That in the colours of the rainbow live 
And play i' th' plighted clouds." 

(D'Israeli's Romances, p. 13.) 

It is by no means credible, however, that Milton 
had any knowledge of the Oriental Peries, though 
his enthusiastic or poetical imagination might have 
easily peopled the air with spirits. 

There are two sorts of fays, according to M. Le 
Grand. The one a species of nymphs or divinities ; 
the other more properly called sorceresses, or women 
instructed in magic. From time immemorial, in the 
abbey of Poissy, founded by St. Lewis, they said 
every year a mass to preserve the nuns from the 
power of the fays. When the process of the Damsel 
of Orleans was made, the doctors demanded, for the 
first question, " If she had any knowledge of those 
who went to the Sabbath with the fays 1 or if she 
had not assisted at the assemblies held at the 
fountain of the fays, near Domprein, around which 


dance malignant spirits 1 " The Journal of Paris, 
under Charles VI. and Charles VII. pretends that she 
confessed that, at the age of twenty-seven years, she 
frequently went, in spite of her father and mother, 
to a fair fountain in the county of Lorraine, which 
she named the "Good Fountain to the Fays Our 
Lord " (lb. p. 75). 

Gervase of Tilbury, in his chapter " of Fauns and 
Satyrs," says, — "there are likewise others, whom 
the vulgar call Follets, who inhabit the houses of the 
simple rustics, and can be driven away neither by 
holy water, nor exorcisms; and because they are 
not seen, they afflict those, who are entering, with 
stones, billets, and domestic furniture, whose words 
for certain are heard in the human manner, and 
their forms do not appear " (Otia imperialia, D. i. c. 
18). He is speaking of England. 

This Follet seems to resemble Puck, or Kobin Good- 
fellow, whose pranks were recorded in an old song and 
who was sometimes useful,and sometimes mischievous. 
Whether or not he was the fairy-spirit of whom Milton 

" Tells how the drudging goblin swet, 
To ern his cream-bowle duly set, 
When, in one night, ere glimpse of morn, 
His shadowy flail hath thresh'd the corn, 
That ten day-labourers could not end, 
Then lies him down, the lubbar fend ; 
And stretch'd out all the chimney's length, 
Basks at the fire his hairy strength ; 
And crop-full out of dores he flings, 
Ere the first cock his matin rings." (&' Allegro), 


is a matter of some difficulty. Perhaps the giant 
son of the witch, that had the devil's mark about 
her (of whom " there is a pretty tale "), that was 
called Lob-lye-by-the-ftre, was a very different per- 
sonage from Robin Good-fellow, whom, however, he 
in some respects appears to resemble. A near 
female relation of the compiler, who was born and 
brought up in a small village in the bishopric of 
Durham, related to him many years ago, several 
circumstnnces which confirmed the exactitude of 
Milton's description; she particularly told of his 
threshing the corn, churning the butter, drinking 
the milk, etc., and, when all was done, " lying before 
the fire like a great rough hurgin bear." 

In another chapter Gervase says — "As among 
men, nature produces certain wonderful things, so 
spirits, in airy bodies, who assume by divine per- 
mission the mocks they make. For, behold ! England 
has certain daemons (daemons, I call them, though 
I know not, but I should say secret forms of unknown 
generation), whom the French call Neptunes, the 
English Porhmes. With these it is natural that they 
take advantage of the simplicity of fortunate peasants; 
and when, by reason of their domestic labours, they 
perform their nocturnal vigils, of a sudden, the doors 
being shut, they warm themselves at the fire, and 
eat little frogs, cast out of their bosoms and put 
upon the burning coals ; with an antiquated coun- 
tenance; a wrinkled face; diminutive in stature, 


not having [in length] half a thumb. They are 
clothed with rags patched together ; and if anything 
should be to be carried on in the house, or any kind 
of laborious work to be done, they join themselves 
to the work, and expedite it with more than human 
facility. It is natural to these, that they may be 
obsequious, and may not be hurtful. But one little 
mode, as it were, they have of hurting. For when, 
among the ambiguous shades of night, the English 
occasionally ride alone, the Portune, sometimes, un- 
seen, couples himself to the rider; and, when he 
has accompanied him, going on, a very long time, at 
length, the bridle being seized, he leads him up to 
the hand in the mud, in which while, infixed, he 
wallows, the Fortune, departing, sets up a laugh ; 
and so, in this kind of way, derides human sim- 
plicity" (Otia iniperialia, D. 3, c. 61). 

This spirit seems to have some resemblance to 
the PicMree-brag, a mischievous barguest that used 
to haunt that part of the country, in the shape of 
different animals, particularly of a little galloway ; 
in which shape a farmer, still or lately living there- 
about, reported that it had come to him one night 
as he was going home ; that he got upon it, and rode 
very quietly till it came to a great pond, to which it 
ran and threw him in, and went laughing away. 

He further says there is, in England, a certain 
species of demons, which in their language they call 
Grant, like a one-year old foal, with straight legs, 


and sparkling eyes. This kind of demon very 
often appears in the streets, in the very heat of the 
day, or about sunset ; and as often as it makes its 
appearance, portends that there is about to be a fire 
in that city or town. When, therefore, in the 
following day or night the danger is urgent, in the 
streets, running to and fro, it provokes the dogs to 
bark, and, while it pretends flight invites them, 
following, to pursue, in the vain hope of overtaking 
it. This kind of illusion provokes caution to the 
watchmen who have the custody of fire, and so the 
officious race of demons, while they terrify the be- 
holders, are wont to secure the ignorant by their 
arrival (Gervase, D. 3, c. 62). 

Gower, in his tale of Narcissus, professedly from 
Ovid, says — 

« As he cast his loke 

Into the well, 

He sawe the like of his visage, 
And wende there were an ymage 
Of such a nymphe, as tho was faye." 

{Confessio amantis, fo. 20, b.) 

In his Legend of Constance is this passage : — 

" Thy wife which is of fairie 
Of suche a childe delivered is, 
Fro kinde, whiche stante all amis." 

[Ibid. fo. 32, b.) 

In another part of his book is a story " Howe 


the Kynge of Armenis daughter mette on a tyme a 
companie of the fairy." These " ladies," ride aside 
"on fayre [white] ambulende horses," clad, very 
magnificently, but all alike, in white and blue, and 
wore " corownes on their heades ; " but they are not 
called fays in the poem, nor does the word fay or 
fairie once occur therein. 

The fairies or elves of the British isles are peculiar 
to this part of the world, and are not, so far as 
literary information or oral tradition enables us to 
judge, to be found in any other countryT) For this 
fact the authority of father Chaucer will be decisive, 
till we acquire evidence of equal antiquity in favour 
of other nations : — 

" In olde dayes of the King Artour, 
Of which the Bretons speken gret honour, 
All was this lond fulfilled of faerie ; 
The elf-quene, with hire joly compagnie, 
Danced ful oft in many a grene mede. 
This was the old opinion as I rede ; 
I speke of many hundred yeres ago ; 
But now can no man see non elves mo, 
For now the grete charitee and prayers 
Of limitoures and other holy freres, 
That serchen every land, and every streme, 
As thickke as motes in the sunnebeme, 
Blissing halles, chambres, kichenes, and boures, 
Citees and burghes, castles highe and toures, 
Thropes and bernes, shepenes and dairies, 
This maketh that ther ben no faeries." 

{Wif of Bathes Tale.) 


The fairy may be defined as a species of being 
partly material, partly spiritual, with a power to 
change its appearance, and be, to mankind, visible 
or invisible, according to its pleasure. ( In the old 
song, printed by Peck, Eobin Good-fellow, a well- 
known fairy, professes that he had played his pranks 
from the time of Merlin, who was the contemporary 
of Arthur. 

Chaucer uses the word faerie as well for the 
individual as for the country or system, or what we 
should now call fairy-land, or faryism. He knew 
nothing, it would seem, of Oberon, Titania, or Mob, 
but speaks of — 

" Pluto, that is the King of Faerie, 
And many a ladie in his compagnie, 
Folwing his wif, the quene Proserpina, etc." 

{The Marchantes Tale, i. 10101.) 

From this passage of Chaucer Mr. Tyrwhitt 
" cannot help thinking that his Pluto and Proserpina 
were the true progenitors of Oberon and Titania." 

In the progress of The Wif of Bathes Tale, it 
happed the knight, 

" in his way to ride 

In all his care, under a forest side, 
Whereas he saw upon a dance go 
Of ladies foure-and-twenty, and yet mo. 
Toward this ilke dance, he drow ful yerne, 
In hope that he som wisdom shulde lerne, 
But, certainly, er he came fully there, 
Yvanished was this dance, he wiste not wher." 


These ladies appear to have been fairies, though 
nothing is insinuated of their size. Milton seems 
to have been upon the prowl here for his "forest- 

In A Midsummer-Night's Dream, a fairy addresses 
Bottom the weaver — 

" Hail, mortal, hail ! " 

which sufficiently shows she was not so herself. 

Puck, or Robin Good-fellow, in the same play, 
calls Oberon, 

" King of shadows" 

and in the old song just mentioned, 

"The KiDg of ghosts and shadows" 

and this mighty monarch asserts of himself, and his 

" But we are spirits of another sort." 

The fairies, as we already see, were male and female. 
Their government was monarchical, and Oberon, 
the King of Fairyland, must have been a sovereign 
of very extensive territory. The name of his queen 
was Titania. Both are mentioned by Shakespeare, 
being personages of no little importance in the 
above play, where they, in an ill-humour, thus 
encounter : 

Obe. Ill met by moon-light, proud Titania. 

Tita. What, jealous Oberon ? Fairy, skip hence ; 
I have forsworn his bed and company." 


That the name [Oberon] was not the invention of 
our great dramatist is sufficiently proved. The 
allegorical Spenser gives it to King Henry the 
Eighth. Eobert Greene was the author of a play 
entitled " The Scottishe history of James the Fourthe 
.... intermixed with a pleasant comedie presented 
by Oberon, king of the fairies" He is, likewise, a 
character in the old French romances of Huon de 
Bourdeaux, and Ogier le Danois; and there even 
seems to be one upon his own exploits, Roman 
d' Auberon. What authority, however, Shakespeare 
had for the name Titania, it does not appear, nor is 
she so called by any other writer. He himself, at 
the same time, as well as many others, gives to the 
queen of fairies the name of Mab, though no one, 
except Drayton, mentions her as the wife of Oberon : 

" then, I see, queen Mab hath been with you, 
She is the fairy's midwife, and she comes 
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone 
On the fore-finger of an alderman, 
Drawn with a team of little atomies 
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep ; 
Her waggon-spokes made of long spinner's legs ; 
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers ; 
The traces, of the smallest spider's web ; 
The collars, of the moonshine's wat'ry beams : 
Her whip, of cricket's bone ; the lash, of film : 
Her waggoner, a small grey-coated gnat, 
Not half so big as a round little worm 
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid : 
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut, 


Made by the joiner squirrel, or old grub, 
Time out of mind the fairies' coachraakers. 
And in this state she gallops night by night 
Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love ! 
. . . This is that very Mab, 
That plats the manes of horses in the night ; 
And bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs, 
Which, once untangled, much misfortune bodes." 

(Romeo and Juliet.) 

Ben Jonson, in his " Entertainment of the Queen 
and Prince at Althrope," in 1603, describes to come 
" tripping up the lawn a bevy of fairies attending 
on Mab their queen, who, falling into an artificial 
ring that was there cut in the path, began to dance 
around."— (Works, v. 201.) 

In the same masque the queen is thus characterised 
by a satyr : — 

" This is Mab, the mistress fairy, 
That doth nightly rob the dairy, 
And can hurt or help the churning, 
(As she please) without discerning. 
She that pinches country- wenches 
If they rub not clean their benches, 
And with sharper nails remembers 
When they rake not up their embers ; 
But, if so they chance to feast her, 
In a shoe she drops a tester. 
This is she that empties cradles, 
Takes out children, puts in ladles ; 
Trains forth midwives in their slumber, 
With a sieve the holes to number ; 

English. B 


And thus leads them from her boroughs, 
Home through ponds and water-furrows. 
She can start our franklin's daughters, 
In their sleep, with shrieks and laughters, 
And on sweet St. Agnes' night 
Feed them with a promised sight, 
Some of husbands, some of lovers, 
Which an empty dream discovers." 

Fairies, they tell you, have frequently been heard 
and seen — nay, that there are some living who were 
stolen away by them, and confined seven years. 
According to the description they give who pretend 
to have seen them, they are in the shape of men, 
exceeding little. They are always clad in green, and 
frequent the woods and fields; when they make 
cakes (which is a work they have been often heard 
at) they are very noisy ; and when they have done, 
they are full of mirth and pastime. But generally 
they dance in moonlight when mortals are asleep 
and not capable of seeing them, as may be observed on 
the following morn — their dancing-places being very 
distinguishable. For as they dance hand in hand, 
and so make a circle in their dance, so next day there 
will be seen rings and circles on the grass. — (Bourne's 
Antiquitates Vulgares, Newcastle, 1725, 8vo, p. 82.) 

These circles are thus described by Browne, the 
author of Britannia's Pastorals : — 

"... A pleasant meade, 
Where fairies often did their measures treade, 
Which in the meadow made such circles greene, 
As if with garlands it had crowned beene 


Within one of these rounds was to be seene 
A hillock rise, where oft the fairie queene 
At twy -light sate, and did command her elves 
To pinch those maids that had not swept their shelves : 
And further, if by maidens' over-sight 
Within doores water were not brought at night, 
Or if they spred no table, set no bread, 
They should have nips from toe unto the head ; 
And for the maid that had perform'd each thing, 
She in the water-pail bad leave a ring." 

The same poet, in his " Shepeards Pipe," having 
inserted Hoccleve's tale of Jonathan and conceiving 
a strange unnatural affection for that stupid fellow, 
describes him as a great favourite of the fairies, 
alleging, that — 

" Many times he hath been seene 
With the fairies on the greene, 
And to them his pipe did sound, 
While they danced in a round, 
Mickle solace would they make him, 
And at midnight often wake him, 
And convey him from his roome 
To a field of yellow broome ; 
Or into the medowes, where 
Mints perfume the gentle aire, 
And where Flora spends her treasure, 
There they would begin their' measure. 
If it chanc'd night's sable shrowds 
Muffled Cynthia up in clowds, 
Safely home they then would see him, 
And from brakes and quagmires free him." 


The fairies were exceedingly diminutive, but, it 
must be confessed, we shall not readily find their 
real dimensions. They were small enough, however, 
if we may believe one of queen Titania's maids of 
honour, to conceal themselves in acorn shells. 
Speaking of a difference between the king and 
queen, she says : — 

" But they do square ; that all the elves for fear 
Creep into acorn cups, and hide them there." 

They uniformly and constantly wore green 
vests, unless when they had some reason for chang- 
ing their dress. Of this circumstance we meet 
with many proofs. Thus in The Merry Wives of 
Windsor — 

"Like urchins, ouphes, and' fairies green." 

In fact we meet with them of all colours ; as in 
the same play — 

" Fairies black, grey, green, and white." 

That white, on some occasions, was the dress of 
a female, we learn from Eeginald Scot. He gives 
a charm " to go invisible by [means of] these three 
sisters of fairies," Milia, Achilla , Sibylia : " I charge 
you that you doo appeare before me visible, in forme 
and shape of faire women, in white vestures, and to 
bring with you tb me the ring of invisibilitie, by the 
which I may go invisible at mine owne will and 
pleasure, and that in all hours and minutes/' 


It was fatal, if we may believe Shakespeare, to 
speak to a fairy. FalstafF, in The Merry Wives of 
Windsor, is made to say, " They are fairies. He 
that speaks to them shall die." 

They were accustomed to enrich their favourites, 
as we learn from the clown in A Winter's Tale — 

" It was told me I should be rich by the fairies." 

They delighted in neatness, could not endure sluts, 
and even hated fibsters, tell-tales, and divulgers of 
secrets, whom they would slily and severely bepinch 
when they little expected it. They were as generous 
and benevolent, on the contrary, to young women of 
a different description, procuring them the sweetest 
sleep, the pleasantest dreams, and, on their departure 
in the morning, always slipping a tester in their 

They are supposed by some to have been 
malignant, but this, it may be, was mere calumny, 
as being utterly inconsistent with their general 
character, which was singularly innocent and 

Imogen, in Shakespeare's Cymbeline, prays, on 
going to sleep — 

" From fairies, and the tempters of the night, 
Guard me, beseech you." 

It must have been the Incubus she was so afraid 


Hamlet, too, notices this imputed malignity of 
the fairies : — 

"... Then do planets strike, 
No fairy takes, nor witch has power to charm." 

Thus, also, in The Comedy of Errors : — 

u A fiend, a fairy, pitiless and rough." 
They were amazingly expeditious in their journeys. 
Puck, or Robin Good-fellow, answers Oberon, who 
was about to send him on a secret expedition — 
" 1 11 put a girdle round about the earth 
In forty minutes." 

Again the same goblin addresses him thus : — 
" Fairy king, attend and mark, 
I do hear the morning lark. 

Obe. Then, my queen, in silence sad, 
Trip we after the night's shade — 
We the globe can compass soon, 
Swifter than the wand'ring moon." 
In another place Puck says — 

" My fairy lord this must be done in haste ; 
For night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast, 
And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger, 
At whose approach ghosts, wandering here and there, 
Troop home to churchyards," etc. 

To which Oberon replies — 

" But we are spirits of another sort : 
I with the morning's love have oft made sport ; 
And, like a forester, the groves may tread, 
Even till the eastern gate, all fiery-red, 
Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams, 
Turns into yellow gold his salt-green streams." 


Compare, likewise, what Eobin himself says on this 
subject in the old song of his exploits. 
They never ate — 

" But that it eats our victuals, I should think, 
Here were a fairy," 

says Belarius at the first sight of Imogen, as 

They were humanely attentive to the youthful 
dead. Thus Gruiderius at the funeral of the above 
lady — 

" With female fairies will his tomb be haunted." 

Or, as in the pathetic dirge of Collins on the same 
occasion : — 

" No wither'd witch shall here be seen, 
No goblins lead their nightly crew ; 
The female fays shall haunt the green, 
And dress the grave with pearly dew." 

This amiable quality is, likewise, thus beautifully 
alluded to by the same poet : — 

" By fairy hands their knell is rung, 
By forms unseen their dirge is sung." 

Their employment is thus charmingly represented 
by Shakespeare, in the address of Prospero : — 

" Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves ; 
And ye, that on the sands, with printless foot 
Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him 
When he comes back ; you demi-puppets, that 


By moon-shine do the green-sour ringlets make, 
Whereof the ewe not bites ; and you, whose pastime 
Is to make midnight mushrooms ; that rejoice 
To hear the solemn curfew." 

In The Midsummer Night's Dream, the queen, 
Titania, being desirous to take a nap, says to her 
female attendants — 

" Come, now a roundel, and a fairy song ; 
Then, for the third part of a minute hence ; 
Some to kill cankers in the musk-rosebuds ; 
Some, war with rear-mice for their leathern wings, 
To make my small elves coats ; and some keep back 
The clamorous owl that nightly hoots, and wonders 
At our quaint spirits. Sing me now asleep ; 
Then to your offices, and let me rest." 

Milton gives a most beautiful and accurate de- 
scription of the little green-coats of his native soil, 
than which nothing can be more happily or justly 
expressed. He had certainly seen them, in this 
situation, with " the poet's eye " : — 

"... Fairie elves, 
Whose midnight revels, by a forest side 
Or fountain, some belated peasant sees, 
Or dreams he sees, while overhead the moon, 
Sits arbitress, and neerer to the earth 
Wheels her pale course, they, on thir mirth and dance 
Intent, with jocond music charm his ear ; 
At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds." 

The impression they made upon his imagination 


in early life appears from his " Vacation Exercise," 
at the age of nineteen : — 

" Good luck befriend thee, son ; for, at thy birth 
The faiery ladies daunc't upon the hearth ; 
The drowsie nurse hath sworn she did them spie 
Come tripping to the room where thou didst lie, 
And, sweetly singing round about thy bed, 
Strew all their blessings on thy sleeping head." 

L'Abbe* Bourdelon, in his Eidiculous Extravagances 
of M. Oufle 1 , describes "The fairies of which," he 
says, " grandmothers and nurses tell so many tales 
to children. These fairies," adds he, "I mean, who 
are affirmed to be blind at home, and very clear- 
sighted abroad ; who dance in the moonshine when 
they have nothing else to do ; who steal shepherds 
and children, to carry them up to their caves," etc. 
— (English translation, p. 190.) 
\_ The fairies have already called themselves spirits, 
ghosts, or shadows, and consequently they never 
died, /& position, at the same time, of which there is 
every kind of proof that a fact can require. The 
reviser of Johnson and Steevens's edition of Shake- 
speare, in 1785, makes a ridiculous reference to the 
allegories of Spenser, and a palpably false one to 
Tickell's Kensington Gardens, which he affirms " will 
show that the opinion of fairies dying prevailed in 
the last century," whereas, in fact, it is found, on 
the slightest glance into the poem, to maintain the 
direct reverse : — 


" Meanwhile sad Kenua, loath to quit the grove, 
Hung o'er the body of her breathless love, 
Try'd every art (vain arts !) to change his doom, 
And vow'd (vain vows !) to join him in the tomb. 
What would she do ? The Fates alike deny 
The dead to live, or fairy forms to die." 

The fact is so positively proved, that no editor 
or commentator of Shakespeare, present or future, 
will ever have the folly or impudence to assert " that 
in Shakespeare's time the notion of fairies dying was 
generally known." 

Ariosto informs us (in Harington's translation, 
Bk. x. s. 47) that 

"... (Either auncient folke believ'd a lie, 
Or this is true) a fayrie cannot die." 

And again (Bk. xliii. s. 92), 

"lama fayrie, and, to make you know, 
To be a fayrie what it doth import : 
We cannot dye, how old so ear we grow. 

Of paines and harmes of ev'rie other sort 
We tast, onelie no death we nature ow." 

Beaumont and Fletcher, in The Faithful Shepherdess, 

describe — 

" A virtuous well, about whose flow'ry banks 
The nimble-footed fairies dance their rounds, 
By the pale moonshine, dipping oftentimes 
Their stolen children, so to make 'em free 
From dying flesh, and dull mortality." 

Puck, alias Kobin Good-fellow, is the most active 
and extraordinary fellow of a fairy that we any- 


where meet with, and it is believed we find him 
nowhere but in our own country, and, peradventure 
also, only in the South. Spenser, it would seem, is 
the first that alludes to his name of Puck : — 

" Ne let the Pouhe, nor other evill spright, 
Ne let Hob-goblins, names whose sense we see not, 
Fray us with things that be not." 

"In our childhood/' says Reginald Scot, "our 
mothers' maids have so terrified us with an oughe 
divell having homes on his head, fier in his mouth, 
and a taile, eies like a bason, fanges like a dog, 
clawes like a beare, a skin like a niger, and a voice 
roaring like a lion* whereby we start and are afraid 
when we heare one crie Bough ! and they have so 
fraied us with bull-beggers, spirits, witches, urchens, 
elves, hags, fairies, satyrs, pans, sylens, Kit with the 
cansticke, tritons, centaurs, dwarfes, giants, imps, 
calcars, conjurors, nymphes, changling, Incubus, 
Robin Goodfellow, the spoorne, the mare, the man 
in the oke, the hell wain, the fier drake, the puckle, 
Tom Thombe, Hob gobblin, Tom Tumbler, boneles, 
and such other bugs, that we are afraid of our 
owne shadowes." — (Discoverie of Witchcraft, London, 
1584, 4to, p. 153.) "And know you this by the 
waie," he says, " that heretofore Eobin Goodfellow 
and Hob goblin were as terrible, and also as credible, 
to the people as hags and witches be now. . . . 
And in truth, they that mainteine walking spirits 


have no reason to denie Kobin Good fellow, upon 
whom there hath gone as manie and as credible 
tales as upon witches, saving that it hath not pleased 
the translators of the Bible to call spirits by the name 
of Kobin Goodfellow."— (P. 131.) 

" Your grandams' maides," says he, " were woont to 
set a boll of milke before Incubus and his cousine 
Kobin Goodfellow for grinding of malt or mustard, 
and sweeping the house at midnight ; and you have 
also heard that he would chafe exceedingly if the 
maid or good-wife of the house, having compassion 
of his naked state, laid anie clothes for him, besides 
his messe of white bread and milke, which was his 
standing fee. For in that case he saith, What have 
we here ] 

"Hemton, hamton, 
Here will I never more tread nor stampen." 

{Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 85.) 

Kobin is thus characterised in The Midsummer 
Nights Dream by a female fairy : — 

" Either I mistake your shape and making quite, 
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite 
Call'd Robin Goodfellow : are you not he 
That fright the maidens of the villagery ; 
Skim milk ; and sometimes labour in the quern, 
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn ; 
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm ; 
Mislead night- wanderers, laughing at their harm ? 
Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck, 
You do their work, and they shall have good luck." 


To these questions Eobin thus replies : — 

" Thou speak'st aright ; 
I am that merry wanderer of the night. 
I jest to Oberon, and make him smile, 
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile, 
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal : 
And sometimes lurk I in a gossip's bowl, 
In very likeness of a roasted crab ; 
And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob, 
And on her wither'd dewlap pour the ale. 
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale, 
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me ; 
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she, 
And ' tailor,' cries, and falls into a cough ; 
And then the whole quire hold their hips, and laugh ; 
And waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and swear, 
A merrier hour was never wasted there." 

His usual exclamation in this play is Ho, ho, ho ! 

"Ho, ho, ho ! Coward, why com'st thou not ? " 
So in Grim, the Collier of Croydon : — 

" Ho, ho, ho ! my masters ! No good fellowship ! 
Is Robin Goodfellow a bugbear grown, 
That he is not worthy to be bid sit down ? " 

In the song printed by Peck, he concludes every 
stanza with Ho, ho, ho ! 

" If that the bowle of curds and creame were not 
duly set out for Kobin Goodfellow, the frier, and 
Sisse the dairymaid, why, then, either the pottage 
was so burnt to next day in the pot, or the cheeses 
would not curdle, or the butter would not come, or 


the ale in the fat never would have good head. 
But if a Peter-penny, or an housle-egge were behind, 
or a patch of tythe unpaid, then 'ware of bull- 
beggars, spirits," etc. 

This frolicsome spirit thus describes himself in 
Jonson's masque of Love Restored : " Eobin Good- 
fellow, he that sweeps the hearth and the house 
clean, riddles for the country maids, and does all 
their other drudgery, while they are at hot-cockles ; 
one that has conversed with your court spirits ere 
now." Having recounted several ineffectual attempts 
he had made to gain admittance, he adds : " In this 
despair, when all invention and translation too 
failed me, I e'en went back and stuck -to this shape 
you see me in of mine own, with my broom and my 
canles, and came on confidently." The mention of 
his broom reminds us of a passage in another play, 
Midsummer Night's Dream, where he tells the 
audience — 

"lam sent with broom before, 
To sweep the dust behind the door." 

He is likewise one of the dramatis personce in the 
old play of Wily Beguiled, in which he says — 

" Tush ! fear not the dodge. I '11 rather put on 
my flashing red nose, and my flaming face, and come 
wrap'd in a calf-skin, and cry Bo, bo ! I '11 pay the 
scholar, I warrant thee." — (Harsnet's Declaration, 
London, 1604, 4to.) His character, however, in 


this piece, is so diabolical, and so different from 
anything one could expect in Robin Good-fellow, 
that it is unworthy of further quotation. 

He appears, likewise, in another, entitled Grim, 
the Collier of Croydon, in which he enters " in a suit 
of leather close to his body; his face and hands 
coloured russet colour, with a flail." 

He is here, too, in most respects, the same strange 
and diabolical personage that he is represented in 
Wily Beguiled, only there is a single passage which 
reminds us of his old habits : — 

" When as I list in this transform'd disguise 
I '11 fright the country people as I pass ; 
And sometimes turn me to some other form, 
And so delude them with fantastic shows, 
But woe betide the silly dairymaids, 
For I shall fleet their cream-bowls night by night." 

In another scene he enters while some of the 
other characters are at a bowl of cream, upon which 
he says — 

" I love a mess of cream as well as they ; 
I think it were best I stept in and made one : 
Ho, ho, ho ! my masters ! No good fellowship ! 
Is Robin Goodfellow a bugbear grown 
That he is not worthy to be bid sit down ? " 

There is, indeed, something characteristic in this 
passage, but all the rest is totally foreign. 

Doctor Percy, Bishop of Dromore, has reprinted 
in his Beliques of Ancient English Poetry a very curious 


and excellent old ballad originally published by Peck, 
who attributes it, but with no similitude, to Ben 
Jonson, in which Kobin Good-fellow relates his 
exploits with singular humour. To one of these 
copies, he says, " were prefixed two wooden cuts, 
which seem to represent the dresses in which this 
whimsical character was formerly exhibited upon 
the stage." In this conjecture, however, the learned 
and ingenious editor was most egregiously mistaken, 
these cuts being manifestly printed from the identical 
blocks made use of by Bulwer in his " Artificial 
Changeling," printed in 1 6 1 5, the first being intended 
for one of the black and white gallants of Seale-bay 
adorned with the moon, stars, etc., the other a 
hairy savage. 

Burton, speaking of fairies, says that " a bigger kind 
there is of them, called with Hobgoblins, and Robin 
Goodfellowes, that would in those superstitious 
times, grinde corne for a messe of milke, cut wood, 
or do any kind of drudgery worke." Afterward, of 
the daemons that mislead men in the night, he says, 
"We commonly call them Pucks." — (Anatomy of 

Cartwright, in The Ordinary, introduces Moth, 
repeating this curious charm : — 

" Saint Frances and Saint Benedight 
Blesse this house from wicked wight, 
From the nightmare, and the goblin 
That is hight Goodfellow Robin ; 


Keep it from all evil spirits, 
Fairies, weezels, rats, and ferrets ; 

From curfew time 

To the next prime." 

(Act in. Sc. 1.) 

This Puck, or Eobin Good-fellow, seems, likewise, 
to be the illusory candle-holder, so fatal to travellers, 
and who is more usually called Jack-a-lantem 9 or 
Will-with-a-wisp ; and, as it would seem from a 
passage elsewhere cited from Scot, Kit with the 
canstick Thus a fairy, in a passage of Shakespeare 
already quoted, asks Robin — 

"... Are you not he 
That frights the maidens of the villagery, 
Misleads night-wanderers laughing at their harm ? " 

Milton alludes to this deceptive gleam in the 
following lines — 

" . . . A wandering fire, 
Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night 
Condenses, and the cold environs round, 
Kindled through agitation to a flame, 
Which oft, they say, some evil spirit attends, 
Hovering and blazing with delusive light, 
Misleads th' amazed night-wanderer from his way 
To bogs and mires, and oft through pond and pool." 
(Paradise Lost, Bk, 9). 

He elsewhere calls him " the frier's lantern." — 
(L' Allegro). 

This facetious spirit only misleads the benighted 
traveller (generally an honest farmer, in his way 

English. Q 


from the market, in a state of intoxication) for the 
joke's sake, as one very seldom, if ever, hears any 
of his deluded followers (who take it to be the 
torch of Hero in some hospitable mansion, affording 
" provision for man and horse ") perishing in these 
ponds or pools, through which they dance or plunge 
after him so merrily. 

" There go as manie tales," says Reginald Scot, 
" upon Hudgin, in some parts of Germanie, as there 
did in England of Robin Good-fellow. . . . Frier 
Rush was for all the world such another fellow as this 
Hudgin, and brought up even in the same schoole — 
to wit, in a kitchen, inasmuch as the selfe-same tale is 
written of the one as of the other, concerning the 
skullian, who is said to have beene slaine, etc., for the 
reading whereof I referre you to frier Rush his storie, 
or else to John Wierus, Be Pmstigiis Dcemonum." 

In the old play of Gammer Gurtoris Needle, printed 
in 1575, Hodge, describing a "great black devil" 
which had been raised by Diccon, the bedlam, and 
being asked by Gammer — 

" But, Hodge, had he no horns to push ? " 
replies — 
" As long as your two arms. Saw ye never Fryer Rushe, 

Painted on a cloth, with a side-long cowe's tayle, 

And crooked cloven feet, and many a hoked nayle ? 

For al the world (if I schuld judg) chould reckon him his 
brother ; 

Loke even what face frier Rush had, the devil had such 


The fairies frequented many parts of the bishopric 
of Durham. There is a hillock, or tumulus, near 
Bishopton, and a large hill near Billingham, both 
which used, in former time, to be "hauntqd by 
fairies." Even Ferry-hill, a well-known stage 
between Darlington and Durham, is evidently a 
corruption of Fairy-hill. When seen, by accident or 
favour, they are described as of the smallest size, 
and uniformly habited in green. They could, how- 
ever, occasionally assume a different size and appear- 
ance ; as a woman, who had been admitted into their 
society, challenged one of the guests, whom she 
espied in the market, selling fairy-butter. This 
freedom was deeply resented, and cost her the eye 
she first saw him with. Mr. Brand mentions his 
having met with a man, who said he had seen one 
who had seen the fairies. Truth, he adds, is to 
be come at in most cases. None, he believes, ever 
came nearer to it in this than he has done. How- 
ever that may be, the present editor cannot pretend 
to have been more fortunate. His informant related 
that an acquaintance in Westmoreland, having a 
great desire, and praying earnestly, to see a fairy, 
was told by a friend, if not a fairy in disguise, 
that on the side of such a hill, at such a time of 
day, he should have a sight of one, and accordingly, 
at the time and place appointed, " the hobgoblin," 
in his own words, " stood before him in the likeness 
of a green-coat lad," but in the same instant, the 


spectator's eye glancing, vanished into the hill. 
This, he said, the man told him. 

"The streets of Newcastle," says Mr. Brand, 
" were formerly (so vulgar tradition has it) haunted 
by a nightly guest, which appeared in the shape of 
a mastiff dog, etc., and terrified such as were afraid 
of shadows. I have heard," he adds, " when a boy, 
many stories concerning it." 

The no less famous barguest of Durham, and the 
'Picktree-br ag, have been already alluded to. The 
former, beside its many other pranks, would some- 
times, at the dead of night, in passing through the 
different streets, set up the most horrid and con- 
tinuous shrieks to scare the poor girls who might 
happen to be out of bed. The compiler of the 
present sheets remembers, when very young, to 
have heard a respectable old woman, then a mid- 
wife at Stockton, relate that when, in her youth- 
ful days, she was a servant at Durham, being up late 
one Saturday night cleaning the irons in the kitchen, 
she heard these shrikes, first at a great and then 
at a less distance, till at length the loudest and 
most horrible that can be conceived, just at the 
kitchen window, sent her upstairs, she did not 
know how, where she fell into the arms of a fellow- 
servant, who could scarcely prevent her fainting 

"Pioneers or diggers for metal," according to 
Lavater, "do affirme that in many mines there 


appeare straunge shapes and spirites, who are 
apparelled like unto other laborers in the pit. 
These wander up and down in caves and under- 
minings, and seeme to bestuire themselves in all kinde 
of labour, as to digge after the veine, to carrie to- 
gither oare, to put it in baskets, and to turne the 
winding- whele to draw it up, when, in very deede, 
they do nothing lesse. They very seldome hurte 
the labourers (as they say) except they provoke them 
by laughing and rayling at them, for then they 
threw gravel stones at them, or hurt them by some 
other means. These are especially haunting in 
pittes where mettall moste aboundeth." — (Of ghostes, 
etc., London, 1572, 4 to, p. 73.) 
This is our great Milton's 

" Swart faery of the mine." 

" Simple foolish men imagine, I know not howe, 
that there be certayne elves or fairies of the earth, 
and tell many straunge and marvellous tales of 
them, which they have heard of their grandmothers 
and mothers, howe they have appeared unto those 
of the house, have done service, have rocked the 
cradell, and (which is a signe of good luck) do* con- 
tinually tarry in the house." — (Of ghostes, etc., p. 49.) 

Mallet, though without citing any authority, 
says, " after all, the notion is not everywhere ex- 
ploded that there are in the bowels of the earth, 
fairies, or a kind of dwarfish and tiny beings of 


human shape, and remarkable for their riches, their 
activity, and malevolence. In many countries of 
the north, the people are still firmly persuaded of 
their existence. In Ireland, at this day, the good 
folk show the very rocks and hills in which they 
maintain that there are swarms of these small sub- 
terraneous men, of the most tiny size, but the most 
delicate figures." — {Northern Antiquities, etc., ii. 47.) 

There is not a more generally received opinion 
throughout the principality of Wales than that of 
the existence of fairies. Amongst the commonalty it 
is, indeed, universal, and by no means unfrequently 
credited by the second ranks. 

Fairies are said, at a distant period, "to have 
frequented Bussers-hill in St. Mary's island, but 
their nightly pranks, aerial gambols, and cockle- 
shell abodes, are now quite unknown." — (Heath's 
Account of the Islands of Scilly, p. 129.) 

" Evil spirits, called fairies, are frequently seen in 
several of the isles [of Orkney], dancing and making 
merry, and sometimes seen in armour." — (Brand's 
Description of Orkney, Edin., 1703, p. 61.) 


A farm-steading situated near the borders of 
Northumberland, a few miles from Haltwhistle, was 

once occupied by a family of the name of W 

K n. In front of the dwelling-house, and at 

about sixty yards' distance, lay a stone of vast size, 
as ancient, for so tradition amplifies the date, as 
the flood. On this stone, at the dead hour of the 
night, might be discerned a female figure, wrapped 
in a grey cloak, with one of those low-crowned 
black bonnets, so familiar to our grandmothers, 
upon her head. She was incessantly knock, knock, 
knocking, in a fruitless endeavour to split the im- 
penetrable rock. Duly as night came round, she 
occupied her lonely station, in the same low crouch- 
ing attitude, and pursued the dreary obligations of 
her destiny, till the grey streaks of the dawn gave 
admonition to depart. From this, the only per- 
ceptible action in which she engaged, she obtained 
the name of Nelly, the Knocker. So perfectly had 
the inmates of the farmhouse in the lapse of time, 
which will reconcile sights and events the most 
disagreeable and alarming, become accustomed to 



Nelly's undeviating nightly din, that the work went 
forward unimpeded and undisturbed by any appre- 
hension accruing from her shadowy presence. Did 
the servant-man make his punctual resort to the 
neighbouring cottages, he took the liberty of scrutin- 
ising Nelly's antiquated garb that varied not with 
the vicissitudes of seasons, or he pried sympatheti- 
cally into the progress of her monotonous occupation, 
and though her pale, ghastly, contracted features 
gave a momentary pang of terror, it was rapidly 
effaced in the vortex of good fellowship into which 
he was speedily drawn. Did the loon venture an 
appointment with his mistress at the rustic style of 
the stack-garth, Nelly's unwearied hammer, instead 
of proving a barrier, only served, by imparting a 
grateful sense of mutual danger, to render more 
intense the raptures of the hour of meeting. So 
apathetic were the feelings cherished towards her, 
and so little jealousy existed of her power to injure, 
that the relater of these circumstances states that 
on several occasions she has passed Nelly at her 
laborious toil, without evincing the slightest per- 
turbation, beyond a hurried step, as she stole a 
glance at the inexplicable and mysterious form. 

An event, in the course of years, disclosed the 
secrets that marvellous stone shrouded, and drove 
poor Nelly for ever from the scene so inscrutably 
linked with her fate. 

Two of the sons of the farmer were rapidly ap- 
proaching maturity, when one of them, more reflecting 


and shrewd than his compeers, suggested the idea of 
relieving Nelly from her toilsome avocation, and 
of taking possession of the alluring legacy to which 
she was evidently and urgently summoning. He 
proposed, conjointly with his father and brother, to 
blast the stone, as the most expeditious mode of 
gaining access to her arcana, and, this in the open 
daylight, in order that any tutelary protection she 
might be disposed to extend to her favourite haunt 
might, as she was a thing of darkness and the night, 
be effectually countervailed. Nor were their hopes 
frustrated, for, upon clearing away the earth and 
fragments that resulted from the explosion, there 
was revealed to their elated and admiring gaze, a 
precious booty of closely packed urns copiously en- 
riched with gold. Anxious that no intimation of 
their good fortune should transpire, they had taken 
the precaution to despatch the female servant on a 
needless errand, and ere her return the whole trea- 
sure was efficiently and completely secured. So 
completely did they succeed in keeping their own 
counsel, and so successfully did their reputation 
keep pace with the cautious production of their 
undivulged treasures, that for many years afterwards 
they were never suspected of gaining any advantage 
from poor Nelly's " knocking " ; their improved ap- 
pearance, and the somewhat imposing figure they 
made in their little district, being solely attributed 
to their superior judgment, and to the good manage- 
ment of their lucky farm. 


There was once a good-looking girl, the daughter 
of well-off country folk, who was loved by an honest 
young fellow named John. He courted her for a 
long time, and at last got her and her parents to 
consent to his marrying her, which was to come off 
in a few weeks' time. 

One day as the girl's father was working in his 
garden he sat down to rest himself by the well, and, 
looking in, and seeing how deep it was, he fell a- 

" If Jane had a child," said he to himself, " who 
knows but that one day it might play about here 
and fall in and be killed ? v 

The thought of such a thing filled him with 
sorrow, and he sat crying into the well for some 
time until his wife came to him. 

" What is the matter % " asked she. " What are 
you crying for % " 

Then the man told her his thoughts — 

" If Jane marries and has a child," said he, " who 
knows but it might play about here and some day 
fall into the well and be killed % " 



41 Alack!" cried the woman, "I never thought 
of that before. It is, indeed, possible." 

So she sat down and wept with her husband. 

As neither of them came to the house the daughter 
shortly came to look for them, and when she found 
them sitting crying into the well — 

"What is the matter?" asked she. "Why do 
you weep 1 " 

So her father told her of the thought that had 
struck him. 

" Yes," said she, "it might happen." 

So she too sat down with her father and mother, 
and wept into the well. 

They had sat there a good while when John 
comes to them. 

" What has made you so sad ? " asked he. 

So the father told him what had occurred, and said 
that he should be afraid to let him have his daughter 
seeing her child might fall into the well. 

" You are three fools," said the young man, when 
he had heard him to an end, and leaving them, he 
thought over whether he should try to get Jane for 
his wife or not. At length he decided that he 
would marry her if he could find three people more 
foolish than her and her father and mother. He 
put on his boots and went out. 

" I will walk till I wear these boots out," said he, 
" and if I find three more foolish people before I am 
barefoot, I will marry her." 


So he went on, and walked very far till he came 
to a barn, at the door of which stood a man with a 
shovel in his hands. He seemed to be working very 
hard, shovelling the air in at the door. 

" What are you doing 1 " asked John. 

"I am shovelling in the sunbeams," replied the 
man, " to ripen the corn." 

" Why don't you have the corn out in the sun for 
it to ripen it 1 " asked John. 

" Good," said the man. " Why, I never thought 
of that ! Good luck to you, for you have saved me 
many a weary day's work." 

"That 's fool number one," said John, and went on. 

He travelled a long way, until one day he came 
to a cottage, against the wall of it was placed a 
ladder, and a man was trying to pull a cow up it 
by means of a rope, one end of which was round 
the cow's neck. 

" What are you about % " asked John. 

" Why," replied the man, " I want the cow up on 
the roof to eat off that fine tuft of grass you see 
growing there." 

" Why don't you cut the grass and give it to the 
cow 1 " asked John. 

" Why, now, I never thought of that ! " answered 
the man. " So I will, of course, and many thanks, 
for many a good cow have I killed in trying to get 
it up there." 

" That 's fool number two," said John to himself. 


He walked on a long way, thinking there were 
more fools in the world than he had thought, and 
wondering what would be the next one he should 
meet. He had to wait a long time, however, and 
to walk very far, and his boots were almost worn 
out before he found another. 

One day, however, he came to a field, in the 
middle of which he saw a pair of trousers standing 
up, being held up by sticks. A man was running 
about them and jumping over and over them. 

" Hullo ! " cried John. " What are you about *? " 

" Why," said the man, " what need is there to 
ask ? Don't you see I want to get the trousers on 1 " 
so saying he took two or three more runs and 
jumps, but always jumped either to this side or 
that of the trousers. 

" Why don't you take the trousers and draw them 
on 1 " asked John. 

" Good," said the man. " Why, I never thought 
of it ! Many thanks. I only wish you had come 
before, for I have lost a great deal of time in trying 
to jump into them." 

" That," said John, " is fool number three." 

So, as his boots were not yet quite worn out, he 
returned to his home and went again to ask Jane 
of her father and mother. At last they gave her 
to him, and they lived very happily together, for 
John had a rail put round the well and the child 
did not fall into it. 


From a chap-book printed at Hull in the beginning of the 
present century.] 

Tale First. 

There were two men of Gotham, and one of them 
was going to the market at Nottingham to buy 
sheep, and the other was coming from the market, 
and both met together on Nottingham bridge. 

" Well met," said the one to the other. 

"Whither are you a-going?" said he that came 
from Nottingham. 

" Marry," said he that was going thither, " I am 
going to the market to buy sheep." 

"Buy sheep," said the other; "and which way 
will you bring them home 1 " 

" Marry," said the other, " I will bring them over 
this bridge." 

"By Robin Hood," said he that came from Not- 
tingham, " but thou shalt not." 

"By maid Marjoram," said he that was going 
thither, " but I will" 



" Thou shalt not," said the one. 

" I will," said the other. 

" Tut here," said the one, and " Tut there," said 
the other. Then they beat their staves against the 
ground one against the other, as if there had been 
a hundred sheep betwixt them. 

" Hold them there," said one. 

"Beware of the leaping over the bridge of my 
sheep," said the other. 

" I care not." 

" They shall all come this way," said the one. 

" But they shall not," said the other. 

As they were in contention, another wise man 
that belonged to Gotham came from the market 
with a sack of meal upon his horse, and seeing and 
hearing his neighbours at strife about sheep, and 
none betwixt them, said he — 

"Ah, fools! will you never learn wit] Then 
help me/' said he that had the meal, " and lay this 
sack upon my shoulder.' ' 

They did so, and he went to one side of the 
bridge, and unloosed the mouth of the sack, and 
shook out the meal into the river. Then said he — 

"How much meal is there in the sack, neigh- 
bours V 9 

" Marry," answered they, " none." 

"Now, by my faith," replied this wise man, 
" even so much wit is there in your two heads, to 
strive concerning that thing which you have not." 


Now, which was the wisest of all these three 
persons I leave you to judge. 

Tale Second. 

On a time the men of Gotham fain would have 
pinned in the cuckoo, whereby she should sing all 
the year ; and in the midst of the town they had a 
hedge made round in compass, and they got the 
cuckoo, and put her into it, and said — 

" Sing here, and you shall lack neither meat nor 
drink all the year." 

The cuckoo, when she perceived herself encom- 
passed within the hedge, flew away. 

" A vengeance on her," said the wise men, " we 
made not our hedge high enough." 

Tale Third. 

There was a man of Gotham who went to the 
market of Nottingham to sell cheese, and, as he was 
going down the hill to Nottingham bridge, one of 
his cheese fell out of his wallet, and ran down the 

"What!" said the fellow, "can you run to the 
market alone 1 I will now send one after the 

Then laying down the wallet, and taking out the 
cheese, he tumbled them down the hill, one after 
the other, and some ran into one bush and some into 
another, so at last he said — 


"I do charge you to meet me in the market- 

And when the man came into the market to meet 
the cheese, he stayed until the market was almost 
done, then went and inquired of his neighbours and 
other men if they did see his cheese come to 

"Why, who should bring them ?" said one of his 

" Marry, themselves ! " said the fellow. " They 
knew the way well enough," said he. "A ven- 
geance on them, for I was afraid, to see my cheese 
run so fast, that they would run beyond the market. 
I am persuaded that they are by this time almost at 

So he immediately takes a horse, and rides after 
them to York, but was very much disappointed. 

But to this day no man has ever heard of the 

Tale Fourth. 

When that Good Friday was come the men of 
Gotham did cast their heads together what to do 
with their white herrings, red herrings, their sprats, 
and salt fish. Then one counselled with the other, 
and agreed that all such fish should be cast into the 
pond or pool, which was in the middle'of the town, 
that_the number of them might increase against the 
next year. Therefore every one that had got any 

English. -rv 


fish left did cast them into the pond. Then one 
said — 

" I have as yet gotten left so many red herrings." 

" Well," said the other, " and I have left so many 

Another immediately cried out — 

"I have as yet gotten so many sprats left." 

" And," said the last, " I have got so many salt 
fishes. Let them all go together into the great 
pond without any distinction, and we may be sure 
to fare like lords the next year." 

At the beginning of the next Lent they imme- 
diately went about drawing the pond, imagining 
they should have the fish, but were much surprised 
to find nothing but a great eel. 

"Ah !" said they, "a mischief on this eel, for he 
hath eaten up our fish." 

"What must we do with him?" said one to the 

" Kill him !" said one to the other. 

" Chop him into pieces," said another. 

" Nay, not so," said the other, " but let us drown 

" Be it accordingly so," replied they all. 

So they immediately went to another pond, and 
did cast the eel into the water. 

" Lie there," said these wise men, " and shift for 
thyself, since you can expect no help from us." 

So they left the eel to be drowned. 

merry tales of the wise men of gotham. 51 

Tale Fifth. 

On a certain time there were twelve men of 
Gotham that went a-fishing; and some did wade 
in the water, and some did stand upon dry land. 
And when they went homeward, one said to the 
other — 

" We have ventured wonderful hard this day in 
wading, I pray God that none of us may have come 
from home to be drowned." 

" Nay, marry," said one to the other, " let us see 
that, for there did twelve of us come out." 

Then they told themselves, and every man told 
eleven, and the twelfth man did never tell himself. 

"Alas !" said the one to the other, " there is some 
one of us drowned." 

They went back to the brook where they had 
been fishing, and did make a great lamentation. A 
courtier did come riding by, and did ask what it 
was they sought for, and why they were so sor- 

"Oh!" said they, "this day we went to fish in 
the brook, and here did come out twelve of us, and 
one of us is drowned." 

" Why," said the courtier, " tell how many there 
be of you," and the one said eleven, and he did not 
tell himself. 

"Well," said the courtier, "what will you give 
me, and I will find out twelve men V 


" Sir," said they, " all the money we have got." 

" Give me the money," said the courtier ; and be- 
gan with the first, and gave a recommendibus over 
the shoulders, which made him groan, saying, " Here 
is one;" and so he served them all, that they 
groaned at the matter. When he came to the last, 
he paid him well, saying — 

" Here is the twelfth man." 

" God's blessing on thy heart for finding out our 
dear brother." 

Tale Sixth. 

A man's wife of Gotham had a child, and the 
father bid the gossips, which were children of eight 
or ten years of age. The eldest child's name, 
who was to be godfather, was called Gilbert, the 
second child's name was Humphrey, and the god- 
mother's name was Christabel. The friends of all 
of them did admonish them, saying, that divers of 
times they must say after the priest. When they 
were all come to the church -door, the priest 
said — 

" Be you all agreed of the name % " 

" Be you all," said Gilbert, " agreed of the 
name % " 

The priest then said — 

" Wherefore do you come hither 1 " 

Gilbert said, " Wherefore do you come hither 1 " 
Humphrey said, " Wherefore do you come hither 1 " 


And Christabel said, "Wherefore do you come 
hither 1" 

The priest being amazed, he could not tell what 
to say, but whistled and said " Whew ! " 

Gilbert whistled and said " Whew ! " Humphrey 
whistled and said " Whew ! " and so did Christabel. 
The priest being angry, said — 

" Go home, fools, go home ! " 

Then said Gilbert and Humphrey and Christabel 
the same. 

The priest then himself provided for god-fathers 
and god-mothers. 

Here a man may see that children can do nothing 
without good instruction, and that they are not wise 
who regard them. 


Near a pixy field in the neighbourhood of Dart- 
moor, there lived, on a time, an old woman who 
possessed a cottage and a very pretty garden, wherein 
she cultivated a most beautiful bed of tulips. The 
pixies, it is traditionally averred, so delighted in 
this spot that they would carry their elfin babes 
thither, and sing them to rest. Often, at the dead 
hour of the night, a sweet lullaby was heard, and 
strains of the most melodious music would float in 
the air, that seemed to owe their origin to no other 
musicians than the beautiful tulips themselves, and 
whilst these delicate flowers waved their heads to 
the evening breeze, it sometimes seemed as if they 
were marking time to their own singing. As soon 
as the elfin babes were lulled asleep by such melodies, 
the pixies would return to the neighbouring field, 
and there commence dancing, making those rings on 
the green which showed, even to mortal eyes, what 
sort of gambols had occupied them during the night 

At the first dawn of light the watchful pixies 
once more sought the tulips, and, though still 


invisible they could be heard kissing and caressing 
their babies. The tulips, thus favoured by a race 
of genii, retained their beauty much longer than any 
other flowers in the garden, whilst, though contrary 
to their nature, as the pixies breathed over them, 
they became as fragrant as roses, and so delighted 
at all was the old woman who kept the garden that 
she never suffered a single tulip to be plucked from 
its stem. 

At length, however, she died, and the heir who 
succeeded her destroyed the enchanted flowers, and 
converted the spot into a parsley-bed, a circumstance 
which so disappointed and offended the pixies, that 
they caused all the parsley to wither away, and, 
indeed, for many years nothing would grow in the 
beds of the whole garden. These sprites, however, 
though eager in resenting an injury, were, like most 
warm spirits, equally capable of returning a benefit, 
and if they destroyed the product of the good old 
woman's garden when it had fallen into unworthy 
hands, they tended the bed that wrapped her clay 
with affectionate solicitude. They were heard 
lamenting and singing sweet dirges around her 
grave ; nor did they neglect to pay this mournful 
tribute to her memory every night before the moon 
was at the full, for then their high solemnity of 
dancing, singing, and rejoicing took place to hail 
the queen of the night on completing her circle in 
the heavens. No human hand ever tended the grave 


of the poor old woman who had nurtured the tulip 
bed for the delight of these elfin creatures ; but no 
rank weed was ever seen to grow upon it. The sod 
was ever green, and the prettiest flowers would 
spring up without sowing or planting, and so they 
continued to do until it was supposed the mortal 
body was reduced to its original dust. 



[From a Chap-book printed and sold in Aldermary 
Churchyard, London. Probable date, 1780.] 

In the reign of King Arthur, near to the Land's 
End of England, in the County of Cornwall, lived 
a wealthy farmer, who had a son named Jack. He 
was brisk and of a ready wit, so that whatever he 
could not perform by force and strength he completed 
by wit and policy. Never was any person heard of 
that could worst him. Nay, the very learned many 
times he has baffled by his cunning and sharp 

In those days the Mount of Cornwall was kept by 
a large and monstrous giant of eighteen feet high, 
and about three yards in circumference, of a fierce 
and grim countenance, the terror of the neighbouring 
towns and villages. 

His habitation was in a cave in the midst of the 
Mount. Never would he suffer any living creature 
to keep near him. His feeding was on other men's 



cattle, which often became his prey, for whenever he 
wanted food, he would wade over to the mainland, 
where he would well furnish himself with whatever 
he could find, for the people at his approach would 
all forsake their habitations. Then would he seize 
upon their cows and oxen, of which he would think 
nothing to carry over upon his back half a dozen at 
one time ; and as for their sheep and boys, he would 
tie them round his waist like a bunch of candles. 
This he practised for many years, so that a great 
part of the county of Cornwall was very much im- 
poverished by him. 

Jack having undertaken to destroy this voracious 
monster, he furnished himself with a horn, a shovel, 
and a pickaxe, and over to the mount he went in 
the beginning of a dark winter's evening, where he 
fell to work, and before morning had dug a pit 
twenty -two feet deep, and in width nearly the same, 
and covering it over with sticks and straw, and then 
strewing a little mould over it, it appeared like 
plain ground. Then, putting his horn to his mouth, 
he blew tan-tivy, tan-tivy, which noise awoke the 
giant, who came roaring towards Jack, crying 
out — 

" You incorrigible villain, you shall pay dearly for 
disturbing me, for I will broil you for my breakfast." 

These words were no sooner spoke, but he tumbled 
headlong into the pit, and the heavy fall made the 
foundation of the Mount to shake. 


" Mr. Giant, where are you now 1 Oh, faith, 
you are gotten into Lob's Pound, where I will surely 
plague you for your threatening words. What do 
you think now of broiling me for your breakfast ? 
Will no other diet serve you but poor Jack % " 

Having thus spoken and made merry with him a 
while, he struck him such a blow on the crown with 
his pole-axe that he tumbled down, and with a groan 
expired. This done, Jack threw the dirt in upon 
him and so buried him. Then, searching the cave, 
he found much treasure. 

Now when the magistrates who employed Jack 
heard that the job was over, the} 7 sent for him, 
declaring that he should be henceforth called Jack 
the Giant Killer, and in honour thereof presented 
him with a sword and an embroidered belt, upon 
which these words were written in letters of gold — 

" Here 's the valiant Cornish man, 
Who slew the giant, Cormoran." 

The news of Jack's victory was soon spread over 
the western parts, so that another giant, called Old 
Blunderbore, hearing of it, vowed to be revenged on 
Jack, if it ever was his fortune to light on him. 
The giant kept an enchanted castle situated in the 
midst of a lonesome wood. 

About four months after as Jack was walk- 

jng by the borders of this wood, on his journey 

towards Wales, he grew weary, and therefore sat 


himself down by the side of a pleasant fountain, 
when a deep sleep suddenly seized him. At this 
time the giant, coming there for water, found him, 
and by the lines upon his belt immediately knew 
him to be Jack, who had killed his brother giant. 
So, without any words, he took him upon his 
shoulder to carry him to his enchanted castle. As 
he passed through a thicket, the jostling of the 
boughs awoke Jack, who, finding himself in the 
clutches of the giant was very much surprised, 
though it was but the beginning of his terrors, 
for, entering the walls of the castle, he found the 
floor strewn and the walls covered with the skulls 
and bones of dead men, when the giant told him 
his bones should enlarge the number of what he 
saw. He also told him that the next day he 
would eat him with pepper and vinegar, and he did 
not question but that he would find him a curious 
breakfast. This said, he locks up poor Jack in an 
upper room, leaving him there while he went out to 
fetch another giant who lived in the same wood, 
that he also might partake of the pleasure they 
should have in the destruction of honest Jack. 
While he was gone dreadful shrieks and cries 
affrighted Jack, especially a voice which continually 
cried — 

" Do what you can to get away, 
Or you '11 become the giant's prey ; 
He 's gone to fetch his brother who 
Will likewise kill and torture you." 


This dreadful noise so affrighted poor Jack, that 
he was ready to run distracted. Then, going to a 
window he opened the casement, and beheld afar 
off the two giants coming. 

" So now," quoth Jack to himself, " my death or 
deliverance is at hand." 

There were two strong cords in the room by him, 
at the end of which he made a noose, and as the 
giants were unlocking the iron gates, he threw the 
ropes over the giants' heads, and then threw the 
other end across a beam, when he pulled with all 
his might till he had throttled them. Then, fastening 
the ropes to a beam, he returned to the window, 
where he beheld the two giants black in the face, 
and so sliding down the ropes, he came upon the 
heads of the helpless giants, who could not defend 
themselves, and, drawing his own sword, he slew 
them both, and so delivered himself from their 
intended cruelty. Then, taking the bunch of keys, 
he entered the castle, where, upon strict search, he 
found three ladies tied up by the hair of their heads, 
and almost starved to death. 

" Sweet ladies," said Jack, " I have destroyed the 
monster and his brutish brother, by which means I 
have obtained your liberties." 

This said, he presented them with the keys of the 
castle, and proceeded on his journey to Wales. 

Jack having got but little money, thought it 
prudent to make the best of his way by travelling 


hard, and at length, losing his road, he was benighted, 
and could not get a place of entertainment, till, 
coming to a valley between two hills, he found a 
large house in a lonesome place, and by reason of 
his present necessity he took courage to knock at 
the gate. To his amazement there came forth a 
monstrous giant, having two heads, yet he did not 
seem so fiery as the other two, for he was a Welsh 
giant, and all he did was by private and secret 
malice, under the false show of friendship. Jack, 
telling his condition, he bid him welcome, showing 
him into a room with a bed, where he might take 
his night's repose. Upon this Jack undressed him- 
self, but as the giant was walking to another 
apartment Jack heard him mutter these words to 
himself — 

iX Tho' here you lodge with me this night, 
You shall not see the morning light, 
My club shall dash your brains out quite." 

" Say you so 1 " says Jack. " Is this one of your 
Welsh tricks 1 I hope to be as cunning as you." 

Then, getting out of bed, and feeling about the 
room in the dark, he found a thick billet of wood, 
and laid it in the bed in his stead, then he hid 
himself in a dark corner of the room. In the dead 
time of the night came the giant with his club, and 
he struck several blows on the bed where Jack had 
artfully laid the billet. Then the giant returned 
back to his own room, supposing he had broken all 


his bones. Early in the morning Jack came to 
thank him for his lodging. 

"Oh," said the giant, "how have you rested 1 
Did you see anything in the night 1 " 

"No," said Jack, "but a rat gave me three or 
four slaps with his tail." 

Soon after the giant went to breakfast on a great 
bowl of hasty pudding, giving Jack but a small 
quantity. Jack, being loath to let him know he 
could not eat with him, got a leather bag, and, 
putting it artfully under his coat, put the pudding 
into it. Then he told the giant he would show him 
a trick, and taking up a knife he ripped open the 
bag and out fell the pudding. The giant thought he 
had cut open his stomach and taken the pudding out. 

" Odds splutters," says he, " hur can do that hur- 
self," and, taking the knife up, he cut himself so 
badly that he fell down and died. 

Thus Jack outwitted the Welsh giant and pro- 
ceeded on his journey. 

King Arthur's only son desired his father to 
furnish him with a certain sum of money, that he 
might go and seek his fortune in the principality of 
Wales, where a beautiful lady lived, whom he had 
heard was possessed with seven evil spirits. 

The king, his father, counselled him against it, 
yet he could not be persuaded, so the favour was 
granted, which was one horse loaded with money, 
and another to ride on. Thus he went forth with- 


out any attendants, and after several days' travel he 
came to a large market-town in Wales, where he 
beheld a vast crowd of people gathered together. 
The king's son demanded the reason of it, and was 
told that they had arrested a corpse for many large 
sums of money, which the deceased owed before he 
died. The king's son replied — 

"It is a pity that creditors should be so cruel. 
Go, bury the dead, and let the creditors come to my 
lodgings, and their debts shall be discharged." 

Accordingly they came, and in such great numbers 
that before night he had almost left himself penni- 
less. Now Jack the Giant Killer being there, and 
seeing the generosity of the king's son, desired to be 
his servant. It being agreed on, the next morning 
they set forward. As they were riding out of the 
town's end, an old woman cried out — 

"He has owed me twopence seven years, pray, 
sir, pay me as well as the rest." 

The king's son put his hand in his pocket and 
gave it her, it being the last money he had, then, 
turning to Jack, he said — 

" Take no thought nor heed. Let me alone, and 
I warrant you we will never want." 

Now Jack had a small spell in his pocket, the 
which served for a refreshment, after which they had 
but one penny left between them. They spent the 
forenoon in travel and familiar discourse, until the 
sun grew low, when the king's son said — 


"Jack, since we have got no money where can 
we lodge to-night V 

Jack replied — 

" Master, we will do well enough, for I have an 
uncle who lives within two miles of this place. He 
is a huge and monstrous giant, having three heads. 
He will beat five hundred men in armour, and make 
them fly before him." 

" Alas ! " said the king's son, " what shall we do 
there ? He will eat us up at a mouthful — nay, we 
are scarce sufficient to fill one hollow tooth." 

" It is no matter for that," says Jack. " I myself 
will go before and prepare the way for you. Tarry 
here, and wait my return." 

He waited, and Jack rode full speed. Coming to 
the castle gate, he immediately began to knock with 
such force that all the neighbouring hills resounded. 
The giant, roaring with a voice like thunder, called — 

"Who is there?" 

" None, but your poor cousin Jack." 

"And what news," said he, "with my cousin 

He replied — 

" Dear uncle, heavy news." 

" God wot ! Prithee ! what heavy news can come 

to me ? I am a giant with three heads, and besides, 

thou knowest, I fight five hundred men in armour, 

and make them all fly like chaff before the wind." 

~" Oh," said Jack, " but here is a king's son coming 

English. E 


with a thousand men in armour to kill you, and to 
destroy all you have." 

" my cousin Jack, this is heavy news indeed, 
but I have a large vault underground where I will 
run and hide myself, and you shall lock, bolt, and 
bar me in, and keep the keys till the king's son is 

Jack, having now secured the giant, returned and 
fetched his master, and both made merry with the 
best dainties the house afforded. In the morning 
Jack furnished his master with fresh supplies of 
gold and silver, and having set him three miles on 
the road out of the giant's smell, he returned and 
let his uncle out of the hole, who asked Jack what 
he should give him for his care of him, seeing his 
castle was demolished. 

"Why," said Jack, "I desire nothing but your 
old rusty sword, the coat in the closet, and the cap 
and the shoes at your bed's head." 

"Ay," said the giant, "thou shalt have them, 
and be sure keep you them, for my sake. They are 
things of excellent use. The coat will keep you 
invisible, the cap will furnish you with knowledge, 
the sword cuts asunder whatever you strike, and the 
shoes are of extraordinary swiftness. They may be 
serviceable to you, so take them with all my heart." 

Jack took them, and immediately followed his 
master. Having overtaken him, they soon arrived 
at the lady's dwelling, who, finding the king's son to 


be a suitor, prepared a banquet for him, which being 
ended, she wiped her mouth with a handkerchief, 
saying — " You must show me this to-morrow morn- 
ing, or lose your head," and then she put it in her 

The king's son went to bed right sorrowful, but 
Jack's cap 'of knowledge instructed him how to 
obtain the handkerchief. In the midst of the night 
the lady called upon her familiar to carry her to 
Lucifer. Jack whipped on his coat of darkness, 
with his shoes of swiftness, and was there before 
her, but could not be seen by reason of his coat, 
which rendered him perfectly invisible to Lucifer 
himself. When the lady came she gave him the 
handkerchief, from whom Jack took it, and brought 
it to his master, who, showing it the next morning 
to the lady, saved his life. This much surprised the 
lady, but he had yet a harder trial to undergo. The 
next night the lady salutes the king's son, telling 
him he must show her the next day the lips she 
kissed last or lose his head. 

" So I will," replied he, " if you kiss none but 

" It is neither here nor there for that," says she. 
" If you do not, death is your portion." 

At midnight she went again and chid Lucifer for 
letting the handkerchief go. 

" But now," said she, " I shall be too hard for the 
king's son, for I will kiss thee, and he is to show me 


the lips I kissed last, and he can never show me thy 

Jack, standing up with his sword of sharpness, 
cut off the evil spirit's head, and brought it under 
his invisible coat to his master, who laid it at the 
end of his bolster, and in the morning, when the 
lady came up, he pulled it out and showed her the 
lips which she kissed last. Thus, she having been 
answered twice, the enchantment broke, and the 
evil spirit left her, to their mutual joy and satisfac- 
tion. Then she appeared her former self, both 
beauteous and virtuous. They were married the 
next morning, and soon after returned with joy to 
the court of King Arthur, where Jack, for his good 
services, was made one of the knights of the Eound 


[From a Chap-book, printed and sold at Newcastle, 
by J. White, 1711.] 

Jack, having been successful in all his undertak- 
ings, and resolved not to be idle for the future, but to 
perform what service he could for the honour of his 
king and country, humbly requested of the king, his 
royal master, to fit him with a horse and money, to 
travel in search of strange and new adventures. 
u For," said he, " there are many giants yet living 
in the remote parts of the kingdom, and in the 


dominions of Wales, to the unspeakable damage of 
your majesty's liege subjects, wherefore, may it 
please your majesty to give me encouragement, and 
I doubt not but in a short time to cut them all off, 
root and branch, and so rid the realm of those cruel 
giants and devouring monsters in nature." 

Now, when the king had heard these noble pro- 
positions, and had duly considered the mischievous 
practices of those bloodthirsty giants, he immedi- 
ately granted what honest Jack requested. And on 
the first day of March, being thoroughly furnished 
with all necessaries for his progress, he took his 
leave, not only of King Arthur, but likewise of 
all the trusty and hardy knights belonging to the 
Round Table, who, after much salutation and friendly 
greeting, parted, the king and nobles to their courtly 
palaces, and Jack the Giant Killer to the eager 
pursuit of Fortune's favours, taking with him the 
cap of knowledge, sword of sharpness, shoes of swift- 
ness, and likewise the invisible coat, the latter to 
perfect and complete the dangerous enterprises that 
lay before him. 

He travelled over vast hills and wonderful moun- 
tains till, at the end of three days, he came to a 
large and spacious wood, through which he must 
needs pass, where, on a sudden, to his great amaze- 
ment, he heard dreadful shrieks and cries. Casting 
his eyes around to observe what it might be, he 
beheld with wonder a giant rushing along with a 


worthy knight and his fair lady, whom he held by 
the hair of their heads in his hands, with as much 
ease as if they had been but a pair of gloves, the 
sight of which melted honest Jack into tears of pity 
and compassion. Alighting off his horse, which he 
left tied to an oak-tree, and then putting on his 
invisible coat, under which he carried his sword of 
sharpness, he came up to the giant, and, though he 
made several passes at him, yet, nevertheless, he 
could not reach the trunk of his body by reason of 
his height, though he wounded his thighs in several 
places. At length, giving him a swinging stroke, 
he cut off both his legs, just below the knees, so 
that the trunk of his body made not only the ground 
to shake, but likewise the trees to tremble with the 
force of its fall, at which, by mere fortune, the 
knight and his lady escaped his rage. Then had 
Jack time to talk with him, and, setting his foot 
upon his neck, he said — 

" Thou savage and barbarous wretch, I am come 
to execute upon you the just reward of your villainy," 
and with that, running him through and through, 
the monster sent forth a hideous groan, and yielded 
up his life into the hands of the valiant conqueror, 
Jack the Giant Killer, while the noble knight and 
virtuous lady were both joyful spectators of his 
sudden downfall and their deliverance. 

This being done, the courteous knight and his 
fair lady not only returned Jack hearty thanks for 


their deliverance, but also invited him home, there 
to refresh himself after the dreadful encounter, as 
likewise to receive some ample reward, by way of 
gratuity, for his good service. 

" No," quoth Jack ; " I cannot be at ease till I 
find out the den which was this monster's habita- 

The knight, hearing this, waxed right sorrowful 
and replied — 

" Noble stranger, it is too much to run a second 
risk, for note, this monster lived in a den under yon 
mountain with a brother of his, more fierce and fiery 
than himself. Therefore, if you should go thither 
and perish in that attempt it would be the heart- 
breaking of both me and my lady. Therefore let 
me persuade you to go with us, and desist from any 
further pursuit." 

" Nay," quoth Jack, " if there be another — nay, 
were there twenty, I would shed the last drop of 
blood in my body before one of them should escape 
my fury. When I have finished this task I will 
come and pay my respects to you." 

So, having taken the directions to their habita- 
tion, he mounted his horse, leaving them to return 
home, while he went in pursuit of the deceased 
giant's brother. He had not ridden past a mile and 
a half before he came in sight of the cave's mouth, 
near to the entrance of which he beheld the other 
giant sitting upon a huge block of timber with a 


knotted iron club lying by his side, waiting, as Jack 
supposed, for his brother's return. His goggle eyes 
appeared like terrible flames of fire. His counten- 
ance was grim and ugly, his cheeks being like a 
couple of large fat flitches of bacon. Moreover, the 
bristles of his beard seemed to resemble rods of iron 
wire. His locks hung down upon his broad 
shoulders, like curled snakes or hissing adders. 

Jack alighted from his horse and put him into a 
thicket, then, with his coat of darkness, he came some- 
what nearer to behold this figure, and said softly — 

" Oh ! are you there ? It will be not long e'er I 
shall take you by the beard." 

The giant all this time could not see him by 
reason of his invisible coat. So, coming up close 
to him, valiant Jack, fetching a blow at his head 
with his sword of sharpness, and missing something 
of his arm, cut off the giant's nose. The pain was 
terrible, and so he put up his hands to feel for his 
nose, and when he could not find it, he raved and 
roared louder than claps of thunder. Though he 
turned up his large eyes, he could not see from 
whence the blow came which had done him that 
great disaster, yet, nevertheless, he took up his iron- 
knotted club, and began to lay about him like one 
that was stark staring mad. 

" Nay," quoth Jack, " if you are for that sport, 
then I will despatch you quickly, for I fear an 
accidental blow should fall on me.". 


Then, as the giant rose from his block, Jack 
makes no more to do but runs the sword up to the 
hilt in his body, where he left it sticking for a while, 
and stood himself laughing, with his hands akimbo, 
to see the giant caper and dance, crying out. 

The giant continued raving for an hour or more, 
and at length fell down dead, whose dreadful fall 
had like to have crushed poor Jack had he not been 
nimble to avoid the same. 

This being done, Jack cut off both the giants' 
heads and sent them to King Arthur by a wagoner 
whom he hired for the purpose, together with an 
account of his prosperous success in all his under- 

Jack, having thus despatched these monsters, re- 
solved with himself to enter the cave in search of 
these giants' treasure. He passed along through 
many turnings and windings, which led him at 
length to a room paved with free- stone, at the 
upper end of which was a boiling cauldron. On 
the right hand stood a large table where, as he 
supposed, the giants used to dine. He came to an 
iron gate where was a window secured with bars of 
iron, through which he looked, and there beheld a 
vast many miserable captives, who, seeing Jack at 
a distance, cried out with a loud voice — 

" Alas I young man, art thou come to be one 
amongst us in this miserable den ] " 

"Ay," quoth Jack, "I hope I shall not tarry 


long here ; but pray tell me what is the meaning of 
your captivity % " 

" Why," said one young man, " I '11 tell you. We 
are persons that have been taken by the giants that 
keep this cave, and here we are kept till such time 
as they have occasion for a particular feast, and 
then the fattest amongst us is slaughtered and pre- 
pared for their devouring jaws. It is not long 
since they took three for the same purpose.' ' 

" Say you so," quoth Jack ; " well, I have given 
them both such a dinner that it will be long enough 
e'er they '11 have occasion for any more." 

The miserable captives were amazed at his words. 

" You may believe me," quoth Jack, " for I have 
slain them with the point of my sword, and as for 
their monstrous heads, I sent them in a wagon to 
the court of King Arthur as trophies of my un- 
paralleled victory." 

For a testimony of the truth he had said, he un- 
locked the iron gate, setting the miserable captives 
at liberty, who all rejoiced like condemned male- 
factors at the sight of a reprieve. Then, leading 
them all together to the aforesaid room, he placed 
them round the table, and set before them two 
quarters of beef, as also bread and wine, so that 
he feasted them very plentifully. Supper being 
ended, they searched the giants' coffers, where, find- 
ing a vast store of gold and silver, Jack equally 
divided it among them. They all returned him 


hearty thanks for their treasure and miraculous 
deliverance. That night they went to their rest, 
and in the morning they arose and departed — the 
captives to their respective towns and places of 
abode, and Jack to the house of the knight whom 
he had formerly delivered from the hand of the 

It was about sun- rising when Jack mounted his 
horse to proceed on his journey, and by the help of 
his directions he came to the knight's house some 
time before noon, where he was received with all 
demonstrations of joy imaginable by the knight and 
his lady, who, in honourable respect to Jack, pre- 
pared a feast, which lasted for many days, inviting 
all the gentry in the adjacent parts, to whom the 
worthy knight was pleased to relate the manner of 
his former danger and the happy deliverance by the 
undaunted courage of Jack the Giant Killer. By 
way of gratitude he presented Jack with a ring of 
gold, on which was engraved, by curious art, the 
picture of the giant dragging a distressed knight 
and his fair lady by the hair of the head, with this 
motto — 

" We are in sad distress, you see, 
Under a giant's fierce command ; 
But gained our lives and liberty 
By valiant Jack's victorious hand. 

Now, among the vast assembly there present were 
five aged gentlemen who were fathers to some of 


those miserable captives which Jack had lately set 
at liberty, who, understanding that he was the person 
that performed those great wonders, immediately 
paid their venerable respects. After this their mirth 
increased, and the smiling bowls went freely round 
to the prosperous success of the victorious conqueror, 
but, in the midst of all this mirth, a dark cloud 
appeared which daunted all the hearts of the 
honourable assembly. 

Thus it was. A messenger brought the dismal 
tidings of the approach of one Thunderdel, a huge 
giant with two heads, who, having heard of the 
death of his kinsmen, the above-named giants, was 
come from the northern dales in search of Jack to 
be revenged of him for their most miserable down- 
fall. He was now within a mile of the knight's 
seat, the country people flying before him from their 
houses and habitations, like chaff before the wind. 
When they had related this, Jack, not a whit 
daunted, said — 

" Let him come. I am prepared with a tool to 
pick his teeth. And you, gentlemen and ladies, 
walk but forth into the garden, and you shall be 
the joyful spectators of this monstrous giant's death 
and destruction." 

To which they consented, every one wishing him 
good fortune in that great and dangerous enterprise. 

The situation of this knight's house take as follows : 
It was placed in the midst of a small island, encom- 


passed round with a vast moat, thirty feet deep and 
twenty feet wide, over which lay a drawbridge. 
Jack employed two men to cut this last on both 
sides, almost to the middle, and then, dressing him- 
self in his coat of darkness, likewise putting on 
his shoes of swiftness, he marches forth against the 
giant, with his sword of sharpness ready drawn. 
When he came up to him, yet the giant could not 
see Jack, by reason of his invisible coat which he 
had on. Yet, nevertheless, he was sensible of some 
approaching danger, which made him cry out in 
these following words — 

" Fe, fi, fo, fum ! 
I smell the blood of an Englishman ; 
Be he alive or be he dead 
I '11 grind his bones to make me bread." 

" Sayest thou so 1 " quoth Jack, " then thou art a 
monstrous miller indeed. But what if I serve thee 
as I did the two giants of late ? On my conscience, 
I should spoil your practice for the future." 

At which time the giant spoke, in a voice as loud 
as thunder — 

" Art thou that villain which destroyed my kins- 
men 3 Then will I tear thee with my teeth, and, 
what is more, I will grind thy bones to powder.' ' 

" You will catch me first, sir," quoth Jack, and 
with that he threw off his coat of darkness that the 
giant might see him clearly, and then ran from him, 
as if through fear. The giant, with foaming mouth 


and glaring eyes, followed after, like a walking castle, 
making the foundation of the earth, as it were, to 
shake at every step. Jack led him a dance three 
or four times round the moat belonging to the 
knight's house, that the gentlemen and ladies might 
take a full view of this huge monster of nature, who 
followed Jack with all his might, but could not 
overtake him by reason of his shoes of swiftness, 
which carried him faster than the % giant could 
follow. At last Jack, to finish the work, took over 
the bridge, the giant with full speed pursuing after 
him, with his iron club upon his shoulder, but, 
coming to the middle of the drawbridge, what with 
the weight of his body and the most dreadful steps 
that he took, it broke down, and he tumbled full 
into the water, where he rolled and wallowed like 
a whale. Jack, standing at the side of the moat, 
laughed at the giant and said — 

"You told me you would grind my bones to 
powder. Here you have water enough. Pray, 
where is your mill ] " 

The giant fretted and foamed to hear him scoff 
at that rate, and though he plunged from place to 
place in the moat, yet he could not get out to be 
avenged on his adversary. Jack at length got a 
cast rope and cast it over the giant's two heads with 
a slip-knot, and, by the help of a train of horses, 
dragged him out again, with which the giant was 
near strangled, and before Jack would let him loose 


he cut off both his heads with his sword of sharp- 
ness, in the full view of all the worthy assembly of 
knights, gentlemen, and ladies, who gave a joyful 
shout when they saw the giant fairly despatched. 
Then, before he would either eat or drink, Jack 
sent the heads also, after the others, to the court of 
King Arthur, which being done, he, with the knights 
and ladies, returned to their mirth and pastime, 
which lasted for many days. 

After some time spent in triumphant mirth and 
pastime, Jack grew weary of riotous living, where- 
fore, taking leave of the noble knights and ladies, 
he set forward in search of new adventures. 
Through many woods and groves he passed, meeting 
with nothing remarkable, till at length, coming near 
the foot of a high mountain, late at night, he knocked 
at the door of a lonesome house, at which time an 
ancient man, with a head as white as snow, arose 
and let him in. 

"Father," said Jack, "have you any entertain- 
ment for a benighted traveller that has lost his 

" Yes," said the old man, " if you will accept of 
such accommodation as my poor cottage will afford, 
thou shalt be right welcome." 

Jack returned him many thanks for his great 
civility, wherefore down they sat together, and the 
old man began to discourse him as follows — 

" Son," said he, " I am sensible thou art the great 


conqueror of giants, and it is in thy power to free 
this part of the country from an intolerable burden 
which we groan under. For, behold ! my son, on 
the top of this high mountain there is an enchanted 
castle kept by a huge monstrous giant named Galli- 
gantus, who, by the help of an old conjuror, betrays 
many knights and ladies into this strong castle, 
where, by magic art, they are transformed into 
sundry shapes and forms. But, above all, I lament 
the fate of a duke's daughter, whom they snatched 
from her father's garden by magic art, carrying her 
through the air in a mourning chariot drawn, as it 
were, by two fiery dragons, and, being secured 
within the walls of the castle, she was immediately 
transformed into the real shape of a white hind, 
where she miserably moans her misfortune. Though 
many worthy knights have endeavoured to break 
the enchantment and work her deliverance, yet 
none of them could accomplish this great work, by 
reason of two dreadful griffins who were fixed by 
magic art at the entrance of the castle gate, which 
destroy any as soon as they see them. You, my 
son, being furnished with an invisible coat, may 
pass by them undiscovered, and on the brazen gates 
of the castle you will find engraved in large char- 
acters by what means the enchantment may be 

The old man having ended his discourse, Jack 
gave him his hand, with a faithful promise that in 


the morning he would venture his life to break the 
enchantment, and free the lady, together with the 
rest that were miserable partners in her calamity. 

Having refreshed themselves with a small morsel 
of meat, they laid them down to rest, and in the 
morning Jack arose and put on his invisible coat, 
cap of knowledge, and shoes of swiftness, and so 
prepares himself for the dangerous enterprises. 

Now, when he had ascended to the top of the 
mountain, he soon discovered the two fiery griffins. 
He passed on between them without fear, for they 
could not see him by reason of his invisible coat. 
Now, when he was got beyond them, he cast his eyes 
around him, where he found upon the gates a golden 
trumpet, hung in a chain of fine silver, under which 
these lines were engraved — 

" Whosoever shall this trumpet blow 
Shall soon the giant overthrow, 
And break the black enchantment straight, 
So all shall be in happy state." 

Jack had no sooner read this inscription but he 
blew the trumpet, at which time the vast founda- 
tion of the castle tumbled, and the giant, together 
with the conjuror, was in horrid confusion, biting 
their thumbs and tearing their hair, knowing their 
wicked reign was at an end. At that time Jack, 
standing at the giant's elbow, as he was stooping to 
take up his club, at one blow, with his sword of 

English. F 


sharpness, cut off his head. The conjuror, seeing 
this, immediately mounted into the -air and was 
carried away in a whirlwind. Thus was the whole 
enchantment broken, and every knight and lady, that 
had been for a long time transformed into birds and 
beasts, returned to their proper shapes and likeness 
again. As for the castle, though it seemed at first 
to be of vast strength and bigness, it vanished in 
a cloud of smoke, whereupon an universal joy 
appeared among the released knights and ladies. 
This being done, the head of Galligantus was like- 
wise, according to the accustomed manner ? conveyed 
to the court of King Arthur, as a present made to 
his majesty. The very next day, after having re- 
freshed the knights and ladies at the old man's 
habitation (who lived at the foot of the mountain), 
Jack set forward for the court of King Arthur, with 
those knights and ladies he had so honourably 

Coming to his majesty, and having related all the 
passages of his fierce encounters, his fame rang 
though the whole court, and, as a reward for his 
good services, the king prevailed with the aforesaid 
duke to bestow his daughter in marriage to honest 
Jack, protesting that there was no man so worthy 
of her as he, to all which the duke very honourably 
consented. So married they were, and not only the 
court, but likewise the kingdom were filled with joy 
and triumph at the wedding. After which the king, 


as a reward for all his good services done for the 
nation, bestowed upon him a noble habitation with 
a plentiful estate thereto belonging, where he and 
his lady lived the residue of their days in great joy 
and happiness. 


"In the province of the Deiri (Yorkshire), not 
far from my birthplace," says William of Newbury, 
" a wonderful thing occurred, which I have known 
from my boyhood. There is a town a few miles 
distant from the Eastern Sea, near which are those 
celebrated waters commonly called Gipse. ... A 
peasant of this town went once to see a friend who 
lived in the next town, and it was late at night 
when he was coming back, not very sober, when, 
lo ! from the adjoining barrow, which I have often 
seen, and which is not much over a quarter of a 
mile from the town, he heard the voices of people 
singing, and, as it were, joyfully feasting. He 
wondered who they could be that were breaking in 
that place, by their merriment, the silence of the 
dead night, and he wished to examine into the matter 
more closely. Seeing a door open in the side of 
the barrow he went up to it and looked in, and 
there he beheld a large and luminous house, full of 
people, women as well as men, who were reclining 
as at a solemn banquet. One of the attendants, 
seeing him standing at the door, offered him a cup. 


He took it, but would not drink, and pouring out 
the contents, kept the vessel. A great tumult arose 
at the banquet on account of his taking away the 
cup, and all the guests pursued him, but he escaped 
by the fleetness of the beast he rode, and got into 
the town with his booty. 

" Finally this vessel of unknown material, of un- 
usual colour, and of extraordinary form, was pre- 
sented to Henry the Elder, King of the English, 
as a valuable gift ; was then given to the Queen's 
brother, David, King of the Scots, and was kept 
for several years in the treasury of Scotland. A few 
years ago, as I have heard from good authority, it 
was given by William, King of the Scots, to Henry 
the Second, who wished to see it." 


There was once on a time an old woman who lived 
near Heathfield, in Devonshire. She made a slight 
mistake, I do not know how, and got up at mid- 
night, thinking it to be morning. This good woman 
mounted her horse, and set off, panniers, cloak, and 
all, on her way to market. Anon she heard a cry 
of hounds, and soon perceived a hare making rapidly 
towards her. The hare, however, took a turn and a 
leap and got on the top of the hedge, as if it would 
say to the old woman " Come, catch me." She liked 
such hunting as this very well, put forth her hand, 
secured the game, popped it into one of the panniers, 
covered it over, and rode forward. She had not 
gone far, when great was her alarm at perceiving on 
the dismal and solitary waste of Heathfield, advanc- 
ing at full pace, a headless horse, bearing a black 
and grim rider, with horns sprouting from under a 
little jockey-cap, and having a cloven foot thrust 
into one stirrup. He was surrounded by a pack of 
hounds which had tails that whisked about and 
shone like fire, while the air itself had a strong 
sulphurous scent. These were signs not to be mis- 


taken, and the poor old woman knew in a moment 
that huntsman and hounds were taking a ride from 
the regions below. It soon, however, appeared that 
however clever the rider might be, he was no con- 
juror, for he very civilly asked the old woman if she 
could set him right, and point out which way the 
hare was flown. The old woman probably thought 
it was no harm to pay the father of lies in his own 
coin, so she boldly gave him a negative, and he rode 
on, not suspecting the cheat. When he was out of 
sight the old woman perceived the hare in the 
pannier began to move, and at length, to her great 
amazement, it changed into a beautiful young lady, 
all in white, who thus addressed her preserver — 

" Good dame, I admire your courage, and I thank 
you for the kindness with which you have saved me 
from a state of suffering that must not be told to 
human ears. Do not start when I tell you that I 
am not an inhabitant of the earth. For a great 
crime committed during the time I dwelt upon it, I 
was doomed, as a punishment in the other world, to 
be constantly pursued either above or below ground 
by evil spirits, until I could get behind their tails 
whilst they passed on in search of me. This diffi- 
cult object, by your means, I have now happily 
effected, and, as a reward for your kindness, I 
promise that all your hens shall lay two eggs instead 
of one, and that your cows shall yield the most 
plentiful store of milk all the year round, that you 


shall talk twice as much as you ever did before, and 
your husband stand no chance in any matter be- 
tween you to be settled by the tongue. But 
beware of the devil, and don't grumble about tithes, 
for my enemy and yours may do you an ill-turn 
when he finds out you were clever enough to cheat 
even him, since, like all great impostors, he does not 
like to be cheated himself. He can assume all shapes, 
except those of the lamb and dove." 

The lady in white then vanished. The old 
woman found the best possible luck that morning 
in her traffic. And to this day the story goes in the 
town, that from the Saviour of the world having 
hallowed the form of the lamb, and the Holy Ghost 
that of the dove, they can never be assumed by the 
mortal enemy of the human race under any circum- 



[From a Chap-book, printed at Whitehaven by Ann Dunn, 
Market Place. Probable date 1780.] 

In the reign before William the Conqueror, I have 
read in an ancient history that there dwelt a man 
in the parish of the Isle of Ely, in the county of 
Cambridge, whose name was Thomas Hickathrift — 
a poor man and a day-labourer, yet he was a very 
stout man, and able to perform two days' work 
instead of one. He having one son and no more 
children in the world, he called him by his own 
name, Thomas Hickathrift. This old man put his 
son to good learning, but he would take none, for 
he was, as we call them in this age, none of the 
wisest sort, but something less, and had no docility 
at all in him. 

His father being soon called out of the world, his 
mother was tender of him, and maintained him by 
her hand labour as well as she could, he being sloth- 



ful and not willing to work to get a penny for his 
living, but all his delight was to be in the chimney- 
corner, and he would eat as much at one time as 
would serve four or five men. He was in height, 
when he was but ten years of age, about eight feet ; 
and in thickness, five feet; and his hand was like 
unto a shoulder of mutton ; and in all his parts, from 
top to toe, he was like unto a monster, and yet his 
great strength was not known. 

The first time that his strength was known was 
by his mother's going to a rich farmer's house (she 
being but a poor woman) to desire a bottle of straw 
for herself and her son Thomas. The farmer, being 
a very honest, charitable man, bid her take what she 
would. She going home to her son Tom, said — 

" I pray, go to such a place and fetch me a bottle 
of straw ; I have asked him leave." 

He swore he would not go. 

" Nay, prithee, Tom, go," said his mother. 

He swore again he would not go unless she would 
borrow him a cart-rope. She, being willing to 
please him, because she would have some straw, went 
and borrowed him a cart-rope to his desire. 

He, taking it, went his way. Coming to the 
farmer's house, the master was in the barn, and two 
men a-thrashing. Said Tom — 

" I am come for a bottle of straw." 

" Tom," said the master, " take as much as thou 
canst carry." 


He laid down the cart-rope and began to make 
his bottle. Said they — 

" Tom, thy rope is too short," and jeered poor 
Tom, but he fitted the man well for it, for he made 
his bottle, and when he had finished it, there was 
supposed to be a load of straw in it of two thousand 
pounds weight. Said they — 

"What a great fool art thou. Thou canst not 
carry the tenth of it." 

Tom took the bottle, and flung it over his 
shoulder, and made no more of it than we would do 
of a hundredweight, to the great admiration of 
master and man. 

Tom HickathrifVs strength being then known in 
the town they would no longer let him lie baking 
by the fire in the chimney-corner. Every one would 
be hiring him for work. They seeing him to have 
so much strength told him that it was a shame for 
him to live such a lazy course of life, and to be idle 
day after day, as he did. 

Tom seeing them bate him in such a manner as 
they did, went first to one work and then to another, 
but at length came to a man who would hire him to 
go to the wood, for he had a tree to bring home, and 
he would content him. Tom went with him, and 
took with him four men besides ; but when they 
came to the wood they set the cart to the tree, and 
began to draw it up with pulleys. Tom seeing 
them not able to stir it, said — 


" Stand away, ye fools!" then takes it up and sets 
it on one end and lays it in the cart. 

" Now/' says he, " see what a man can do ! " 

" Marry, it is true/' said they. 

When they had done, as they came through 
the wood, they met the woodman. Tom asked 
him for a stick to make his mother a fire with. 

" Ay," says the woodman. " Take one that thou 
canst carry." 

Tom espied a tree bigger than that one that was 
in the cart, and lays it on his shoulder, and goes 
home with it as fast as the cart and the six horses 
could draw it. This was the second time that Tom's 
strength was known. 

When Tom began to know that he had more 
strength than twenty men, he then began to be 
merry and very tractable, and would run or jump ; 
took great delight to be amongst company, and to 
go to fairs and meetings, to see sports and pas- 

Going to a feast, the young men were all met, 
some to cudgels, some to wrestling, some throwing 
the hammer, and the like. Tom stood a little to 
see the sport, and at last goes to them that were 
throwing the hammer. Standing a little to see their 
manlike sport, at last he takes the hammer in his 
hand, to feel the weight of it, and bid them stand 
out of the way, for he would throw it as far as he 


"Ay," said the smith, and jeered poor Tom. 
" You '11 throw it a great way, I '11 warrant you." 

Tom took the hammer in his hand and flung it. 
And there was a river about five or six furlongs off, 
and he flung it into that. When he had done, he 
bid the smith fetch the hammer, and laughed the 
smith to scorn. 

When Tom had done this exploit he would go to 
wrestling, though he had no more skill of it than an 
ass but what he did by strength, yet he flung all 
that came to oppose him, for if he once laid hold of 
them they were gone. Some he would throw over 
his head, some he would lay down slyly and how he 
pleased. He would not like to strike at their heels, 
but flung them two or three yards from him, ready 
to break their necks asunder. So that none at last 
durst go into the ring to wrestle with him, for they 
took him to be some devil that was come among 
them. So Tom's fame spread more and more in the 

Tom's fame being spread abroad both far and 
near, there was not a man durst give him an angry 
word, for he was something fool-hardy, and did not 
care what he did unto them, so that all they that 
knew him would not in the least displease him. At 
length there was a brewer at Lynn that wanted a 
good lusty man to carry his beer to the Marsh and 
to Wisbeach, hearing of Tom, went to hire him, but 
Tom seemed coy, and would not be his man until his 


mother and friends persuaded him, and his master 
entreated him. He likewise promised him that he 
should have a new suit of clothes and everything 
answerable from top to toe, besides he should eat of 
the best. Tom at last yielded to be his man, and 
his master told him how far he must go, for you 
must understand there was a monstrous giant kept 
some part of the Marsh, and none durst go that way, 
for if they did he would keep them or kill them, or 
else he would make bond slaves of them. 

But to come to Tom and his master. He did 
more work in one day than all his men could do in 
three, so that his master, seeing him very tractable, 
and to look well after his business, made him his 
head man to go into the Marsh to carry beer by 
himself, for he needed no man with him. Tom went 
every day in the week to Wisbeach, which was a 
very good journey, and it was twenty miles the road- 

Tom — going so long that wearisome journey, and 
finding that way the giant kept was nearer by half, 
and Tom having now got much more strength than 
before by being so well kept and drinking so much 
strong ale as he did — one day as he was going to 
Wisbeach, and not saying anything to his master or 
to any of his fellow-servants, he was resolved to 
make the nearest way to the wood or lose his life, 
to win the horse or lose the saddle, to kill or be 
killed, if he met with the giant. And with this 


resolution he goes the nearest way with his cart and 
horses to go to Wisbeach ; but the giant, perceiving 
him, and seeing him to be bold, thought to prevent 
him, and came, intending to take his cart for a prize, 
but he cared not a bit for him. 

The giant met Tom like a lion, as though he 
would have swallowed him up at a mouthful. 

"Sirrah," said he, "who gave you authority to 
come this way 1 Do you not know I make all stand 
in fear of my sight, and you, like an impudent rogue, 
must come and fling my gates open at your pleasure 1 
How dare you presume to do this? Are you so 
careless of your life ? I will make thee an example 
for all rogues under the sun. Dost thou not care 
what thou dost % Do you see how many heads hang 
upon yonder tree that have offended my law? 
Thy head shall hang higher than all the rest for an 
example ! " 

Tom made him answer — 

" A fig for your news, for you shall not find me 
like one of them." 

" No % " said the giant. " Why ? Thou art but a 
fool if thou comest to fight with such a one as I am, 
and bring no weapon to defend thyself withal." 

Said Tom— 

" I have a weapon here will make you understand 
you are a traitorly rogue." 

" Ay, sirrah," said the giant ; and took that worxl 
in high disdain that Tom should call him a traitorly 


rogue, and with that he ran into his cave to fetch 
out his club, intending to dash out Tom's brains at 
the first blow. 

Tom knew not what to do for a weapon, for he 
knew his whip would do but little good against such 
a monstrous beast as he was, for he was in height 
about twelve feet, and six about the waist. While 
the giant went for his club, Tom bethought himself 
of two very good weapons, for he makes no more ado 
but takes his cart and turns it upside down, takes 
out the axle-tree, and a wheel for his shield and 
buckler, and very good weapons they were, espe- 
cially in time of need. The giant, coming out again, 
began to stare at Tom, to see him take the wheel in 
one hand, and the axle-tree in the other, to defend 
him with. 

" Oh," said the giant. " you are like to do great 
service with these weapons. I have here a twig that 
will beat thee and thy wheel and axle-tree to the 

That which the giant called a twig was as thick 
as some mill-posts are, but Tom was not daunted 
for his big and threatening speech, for he per- 
fectly saw there was no way except one, which was 
to kill or be killed. So the giant made at Tom 
with such a vehement force that he made Tom's 
wheel crack again, and Tom lent the giant as good, 
for he took him such a weighty blow on the side of 
his head, that he made the giant reel again. 


"What," said Tom, "are you drunk with my 
strong beer already Y 1 

The giant, recovering, laid on Tom, but still as 
they came, Tom kept them off with his wheel, so 
that he had no hurt at all. In short, Tom plied his 
work so well, and laid such huge blows on the giant 
that sweat and blood together ran down his face, 
and, being fat and foggy with fighting so long, he 
was almost tired out, and he asked Tom to let him 
drink a little water, and then he would fight him 

" No," said Tom, " my mother did not teach me 
that wit. Who would be the fool then?" 

Tom, seeing the giant began to grow weary, and 
that he failed in his blows, thought it was best to 
make hay while the sun did shine, for he laid on so 
fast as though he had been mad, till he brought the 
giant down to the ground. 

The giant seeing himself down, and Tom laying 
so hard on him, made him roar in a most lamentable 
manner, and prayed him not to take away his life 
and he would do anything for him, and yield himself 
to him to be his servant. 

But Tom, having no more mercy on him than a 
dog or a bear, laid still on the giant till he laid him 
for dead. When he had done, he cut off his head, 
and went into his cave, where he found great store 
of gold and silver, which made his heart leap. 
~ Now, having done this action in killing the giant, 

English. G 


he put his cart together again, loaded it, and drove 
it to Wisbeach and delivered his beer, and, coming 
home to his master, he told it to him. His master 
was so overjoyed at the news that he would not be- 
lieve him till he had seen ; and, getting up the next 
day, he and his master went to see if he spoke the 
truth or not, together with most of the town of 
Lynn. When they came to the place and found the 
giant dead, he then showed the place where the 
head was, and what silver and gold there was in the 
cave. All of them leaped for joy, for this monster 
was a great enemy to all the country. 

This news was spread all up and down the country, 
how Tom Hickathrift had killed the giant, and well 
was he that could run or go to see the giant and his 
cave. Then all the folks made bonfires for joy, and 
Tom was a better respected man than before. 

Tom took possession of the giant's cave by con- 
sent of the whole country, and every one said he 
deserved twice as much more. Tom pulled down 
the cave and built him a fine house where the cave 
stood, and in the ground that the giant kept by force 
and strength, some of which he gave to the poor for 
their common, the rest he made pastures of, and 
divided the most part into tillage to maintain him 
and his mother, Jane Hickathrift. 

Tom's fame was spread both far and near through- 
out the country, and it was no longer Tom but 
Mr. Hickathrift, so that he was now the chiefest 


man among them, for the people feared Tom's 
anger as much as they did the giant before. Tom 
kept men and maid servants, and lived most bravely. 
He made a park to keep deer in. Near to his 
house he built a church and gave it the name of 
St. James's Church, because he killed the giant on 
that day, which is so called to this hour. He did 
many good deeds, and became a public benefactor 
to all persons that lived near him. 

Tom having got so much money about him, and 
being not used to it, could hardly tell how to 
dispose of it, but yet he did use the means to do it, 
for he kept a pack of hounds and men to hunt with 
him, and who but Tom then? So he took such 
delight in sports that he would go far and near to 
any meetings, as cudgel-play, bear baiting, football, 
and the like. 

Now as Tom was riding one day, he alighted off 
his horse to see that sport, for they were playing for 
a wager. Tom was a stranger, and none did know 
him there. But Tom spoiled their sport, for he, 
meeting the football, took it such a kick, that they 
never found their ball more. They could see it fly, 
but whither none could tell. They all wondered at 
it, and began to quarrel with Tom, but some of 
them got nothing by it, for Tom gets a great spar 
which belonged to a house that was blown down, 
and all that stood in his way he knocked down, so 
' that all the county was up in arms to take Tom, 


but all in vain, for he manfully made way wherever 
he came. 

When he was gone from them, and returning 
homewards, he chanced to be somewhat late in the 
evening on the road. There met him four stout, 
lusty rogues that had been robbing passengers that 
way, and none could escape them, for they robbed all 
they met, both rich and poor. They thought when 
they met with Tom he would be a good prize for 
them, and, perceiving he was alone made cock-sure 
of his money, but they were mistaken, for he got a 
prize by them. Whereupon, meeting him, they bid 
him stand and deliver. 

" What," said Tom, " shall I deliver ? " 

" Your money, sirrah," said they. 

" But," said Tom, " you will give me better 
words for it, and you must be better armed." 

" Come, come," said they, " we do not come here 
to parley, but we come for money, and money we 
will have before we stir from this place." 

" Ay ! " said Tom. " Is it so 1 Then get it and 
take it." 

So then one of them made at him, but he presently 
unarmed him and took away his sword, which was 
made of good trusty steel, and smote so hard at the 
others that they began to put spurs to their horses 
and be-gone. But he soon stayed their journey, for 
one of them having a portmanteau behind him, Tom, 
supposing there was money in it, fought with a great 


deal of more courage than before, till at last he killed 
two of the four, and the other two he wounded very 
sore so that they cried out for quarter. With much 
ado he gave them their lives, but took all their 
money, which was about two hundred pounds, to 
bear his expenses home. Now when Tom came 
home he told them how he had served the football- 
players and the four highwaymen, which caused a 
laughter from his old mother. Then, refreshing 
himself, he went to see how all things were, and 
what his men had done since he went from home. 

Then going into his forest, he walked up and 
down, and at last met with a lusty tinker that had a 
good staff on his shoulder, and a great dog to carry 
his leather bag and tools of work. Tom asked the 
tinker from whence he came, and whither he was 
going, for that was no highway. The tinker, being 
a sturdy fellow, bid him go look, and what was that 
to him, for fools would be meddling. 

" No," says Tom, " but I '11 make you know, before 
you and I part, it is me." 

" Ay ! " said the tinker, " I have been this three 
long years, and have had no combat with any man, 
and none durst make me an answer. I think they 
be all cowards in this country, except it be a man 
who is called Thomas Hickathrift who killed a 
giant. Him I would fain see to have one combat 
with him." 

" Ay ! " said Tom, " but, methinks, I might be 


master in your mouth. I am the man : what have 
you to say to me ? " 

" Why," said the tinker, " verily, I am glad we 
have met so happily together, that we may have 
one single combat." 

" Sure," said Tom, " you do hut jest 1 " 

" Marry," said the tinker, " I am in earnest." 

" A match," said Tom. " Will you give me leave 
to get a twig 1 " 

"Ay," says the tinker. " Hang him that will 
fight a man unarmed. I scorn that." 

Tom steps to the gate, and takes one of the rails 
' for his staff. So they fell to work. The tinker at 
Tom and Tom at the tinker, like unto two giants, 
they laid one at the other. The tinker had on a 
leathern coat, and at every blow Tom gave the 
tinker his coat cracked again, yet the tinker did not 
give way to Tom an inch, but Tom gave the tinker 
a blow on the side of the head which felled the 
tinker to the ground. 

" Now, tinker, where are you 3 " said Tom. 

But the tinker, being a man of metal, leaped up 
again, and gave Tom a blow which made him reel 
again, and followed his blows, and then took Tom on 
the other side, which made Tom's neck crack again. 
Tom flung down the weapon, and yielded the tinker 
to be the best man, and took him home to his house, 
where I shall leave Tom and the tinker to be 
recovered of their many wounds and bruises, which 


relation is more enlarged as you may read in the 
second part of Thomas Hickathrift. 


[From a Chap-book. The book bears no date or note as 
to where or by whom it was printed. It was probably 
printed at London about the year 1780.] 

In and about the Isle of Ely many disaffected 
persons, to the number of ten thousand and upwards, 
drew themselves up in a body, presuming to contend 
for their pretended ancient rights and liberties, 
insomuch that the gentry and civil magistrates of 
the country were in great danger, at which time the 
sheriff, by night, privately got into the house of 
Thomas Hickathrift as a secure place of refuge in so 
imminent a time of danger, where before Thomas 
Hickathrift he laid open the villainous intent of 
this headstrong, giddy-brained multitude. 

"Mr. Sheriff," quoth Tom, "what service my 
brother " (meaning the tinker) " and I can perform 
shall not be wanting." 

This said, in the morning by daybreak, with 
trusty clubs, they both went forth, desiring the 
Sheriff to be their guide in conducting them to the 
place of the rebels' rendezvous. When they came 
there, Tom and the tinker marched up to the head of 


the multitude, and demanded of them the reason 
why they disturbed the government, to which they 
answered with a loud cry — 

" Our will 's our law, and by that alone we will 
be governed." 

"Nay," quoth Tom, "if it be so, these trusty 
clubs are our weapons, and by them you shall be 
chastised," which words were no sooner out of his 
mouth than the tinker and he put themselves both 
together in the midst of the throng, and with their 
clubs beat the multitude down, trampling them 
under their feet. Every blow which they struck 
laid twenty or thirty before them, nay — remarkable 
it was, the tinker struck a tall man, just upon the 
nape of the neck, with that force that his head flew 
off and was carried violently fourteen feet from him, 
where it knocked down one of their chief ring- 
leaders, — Tom, on the other hand, still pressing 
forward, till by an unfortunate blow he broke his 
club. Yet he was not in the least dismayed, for he 
presently seized upon a lusty, stout, raw-boned 
miller, and made use of him for a weapon, till at 
length they cleared the field, so that there was not 
found one that dare lift up a hand against them, 
having run to holes and corners to hide themselves. 
Shortly after some of their heads were taken and 
made public examples of justice, the rest being 
pardoned at the humble request of Thomas Hicka- 
thrift and the tinker. 


The king, being truly informed of the faithful 
services performed by these his loving subjects, 
Thomas Hickathrift and the tinker, he was pleased 
to send for them to his palace, where a royal banquet 
was prepared for their entertainment, most of the 
nobility being present. Now after the banquet was 
over, the king said unto all that were there — 

" These are my trusty and well- beloved subjects, 
men of approved courage and valour. They are the 
men that overcame and conquered ten thousand, 
which were got together to disturb the peace of my 
realm. According to the character that hath been 
given to Thomas Hickathrift and Henry Nonsuch, 
persons here present, they cannot be matched in any 
other kingdom in the world. Were it possible to 
have an army of twenty thousand such as these, I 
dare venture to act the part of Alexander the Great 
over again, yet, in the meanwhile, as a proof of 
my royal favour, kneel down and receive the ancient 
order of knighthood, Mr. Hickathrift," which was 
instantly performed. 

" And as for Henry Nonsuch, I will settle upon 
him, as a reward for his great service, the sum of 
forty shillings a year, during life," which said, the 
king withdrew, and Sir Thomas Hickathrift and 
Henry Nonsuch, the tinker, returned home, attended 
by many persons of quality some miles from the 
court. But, to the great grief of Sir Thomas, at 
his return from the court, he found his aged mother 


drawing to her end, who, in a few days after, died, 
and was buried in the Isle of Ely. 

Tom's mother being dead, and he left alone in a 
large and spacious house, he found himself strange 
and uncouth, therefore he began to consider with 
himself that it would not be amiss to seek out for a 
wife. Hearing of a young rich widow, not far from 
Cambridge, to her he went and made his addresses, 
and, at the first coming, she seemed to show him much 
favour and countenance, but between this and his 
coming again she had given some entertainment to 
a more genteel and airy spark, who happened like- 
wise to come while honest Tom was there the second 
time. He looked wistfully at Tom, and he stared 
as wistfully at him again. At last the young spark 
began with abuseful language to affront Tom, telling 
him that he was a great lubberly whelp, adding that 
such a one as he should not pretend to make love 
to a lady, as he was but a brewer's servant. 

" Scoundrel ! " quoth Tom, " better words should 
become you, and if you do not mend your manners 
you shall not fail to feel my sharp correction." 

At which the young spark challenged him forth 
into the back-yard, for, as he said, he did not question 
but to make a fool of Tom in a trice. Into the yard 
they both walk together, the young spark with a 
naked sword, and Tom with neither stick nor staff 
in his hand nor any other weapon. 

" What ! " says the spark, " have you nothing to 


defend vourself ? Well, I shall the sooner despatch 


Which said, he ran furiously forward, making a 
pass at Tom, which he put by, and then, wheeling 
round, Tom gave him such a swinging kick as 
sent the spark, like a crow, up into the air, from 
whence he fell upon the ridge of a thatched house, 
and then came down into a large fish-pond, and had 
been certainly drowned if it had not been for a poor 
shepherd who was walking that way, and, seeing him 
float upon the water, dragged him out with his hook, 
and home he ran, like a drowned rat, while Tom 
returned to the lady. 

This young gallant being tormented in his mind 
to think how Tom had conquered and shamed him 
before his mistress, he was now resolved for speedy 
revenge, and knowing that he was not able to cope 
with a man of Tom's strength and activity, he, 
therefore, hired two lusty troopers to lie in ambush 
in a thicket which Tom was to pass through from 
his home to the young lady. Accordingly they 
attempted to set upon him. 

" How, now," quoth Tom, " rascals, what would 
you be at 1 . Are you, indeed, weary of the world 
that you so unadvisedly set upon one who is able to 
crush you in like a cucumber ? " 

The troopers, laughing at him, said that they were 
not to be daunted at his high words. 

" High words," quoth Tom. " No, I will come to 


action," and with that he ran in between these 
armed troopers, catching them under his arm, horse 
and men, with as much ease as if they had been but 
a couple of baker's babbins, steering his course with 
them hastily towards his own home. As he passed 
through a meadow, in which there were many 
haymakers at work, the poor distressed troopers 
cried out — 

" Stop him ! stop him ! He runs away with two 
of the king's troopers." 

The haymakers laughed heartily to see how Tom 
hugged them along. Ever and anon he upbraided 
them for their baseness, and declared that he would 
make minced meat of them to feed the crows and 
jackdaws about his house and habitation. This was 
such a dreadful lecture to them that the poor rogues 
begged that he would be merciful and spare their 
lives, and they would discover the whole plot, and 
who was the person that employed them. This 
accordingly they did, and gained favour in the sight 
of Tom, who pardoned them upon promise that they 
would never be concerned in such a villainous action 
for the time to come. 

In regard Tom had been hindered by these 
troopers, he delayed his visit to his lady till the 
next day, and then, coming to her, gave her a full 
account of what had happened. She was pleased at 
heart at this wonderful relation, knowing it was 
safe for a woman to marry with a man who was able 


to defend her against all assaults whatsoever, and 
such a one she found Tom to be. The day of 
marriage was accordingly appointed, and friends 
and relations invited, yet secret malice, which is 
never satisfied without sweet revenge, had like to 
have prevented the solemnity, for, having three 
miles to go to church, where they were to he married, 
the aforesaid gentleman had provided a second time 
Russians in armour, to the number of twenty- one, 
he himself being then present, either to destroy the 
life of Tom, or put them into strange consternation. 
However, thus it happened. In a lonesome place 
they rolled out upon them, making their first assault 
upon Tom, and, with a spear, gave him a slight 
wound, at which his love and the rest of the women 
shrieked and cried like persons out of their wits. 
Tom endeavoured all that he could to pacify them, 

" Stand you still and I will show you pleasant 

With that he caught a back-sword from the side 
of a gentleman in his own company, with which he 
so bravely behaved himself that at every stroke he 
cut off a joint. Loath he was to touch the life of 
any, but, aiming at their legs and arms, he lopped 
them off so fast that, in less than a quarter of an 
hour, there was not one in the company but what had 
lost a limb, the green grass being stained with 
"their purple gore, and the ground strewn with legs 


and arms, as 'tis with tiles from the tops of the 
houses after a dreadful storm — his love and the rest 
of the company standing all the while as joyful spec- 
tators, laughing one at another, saying — 

" What a company of cripples has he made, as it 
were in the twinkling of an eye ! " 

"Yes," quoth Tom, "I believe that for every drop 
of blood that I lost, I have made the rascals pay me 
a limb as a just tribute." 

This done, he stept to a farmer's hard by, and 
hired there a servant, giving him twenty shillings 
to carry these cripples home to their respective 
habitations in his cart. Then did he hasten with 
his love to the church to be married, and then 
returned home, where they were heartily merry 
with their friends, after their fierce and dreadful 

Now, Tom being married, he made a plentiful 
feast, to which he invited all the poor widows in 
four or five parishes, for the sake of his mother, 
whom he had lately buried. This feast was kept in 
his own house, with all manner of varieties that the 
country could afford, for the space of four days, in 
honour likewise of the four victories which he had 
lately obtained. Now, when the time of feasting was 
ended, a silver cup was missing, and, being asked 
about it, they every one denied they knew anything 
about it. At -length it was agreed that they should 
all stand the search, which they did, and the cup was 


found on a certain old woman, named the widow 
Stumbelow. Then were all the rest in a rage. Some 
were for hanging her, others were for chopping the 
old woman in pieces for her ingratitude to such a 
generous soul as Sir Thomas Hickathrift, but he 
entreated them all to be quiet, saying they should 
not murder the old woman, for he would appoint a 
punishment for her himself, which was this — he 
bored a hole through her nose, and, tying a string 
therein, then ordered her to be led by the nose 
through all the streets and lanes in Cambridge. 

The tidings of Tom's wedding were soon noised 
in the court, so that the king sent them a royal in- 
vitation to the end that he might see his lady. 
They immediately went, and were received with all 
demonstrations of joy and triumph, but while they 
were in their mirth a dreadful cry approached the 
court, which proved to be the commons of Kent who 
were come thither to complain of a dreadful giant 
that was landed in one of the islands, and brought 
with him abundance of bears and young lions, like- 
wise a dreadful dragon, on which he himself rode, 
which monster and ravenous beasts had frightened 
all the inhabitants out of the island. Moreover, 
they said, if speedy course was not taken to suppress 
them in time, they might overrun the whole island. 
The king, hearing this dreadful relation, was a little 
startled, yet he persuaded them to return home and 
~make the best defence they could for themselves at 


present, assuring them that he should not forget 
them, and so they departed. 

The king, hearing the aforesaid dreadful tidings, 
immediately sat in council to consider what was to 
be done for the overcoming this monstrous giant, 
and barbarous savage lions and beasts, that with 
him had invaded his princely territories. At length 
it was agreed upon that Thomas Hickathrift was the 
most likely man in the whole kingdom for under- 
taking of so dangerous an enterprise, he being not 
only a fortunate man of great strength, but like- 
wise a true and trusty subject, one that was always 
ready and willing to do his king and country service. 
For which reason it was thought necessary to make 
him governor of the aforesaid island, which place of 
trust and honour he readily received, and accord- 
ingly he forthwith went down with his wife and 
family, attended by a hundred knights and gentle- 
men, who conducted him to the entrance of the 
island which he was to govern. A castle in those 
days there was, in which he was to take up his 
head-quarters, the same being situated with that 
advantage that he could view the island for several 
miles upon occasion. The knights and gentlemen, 
at last taking their leave of him, wished him all 
happy success and prosperity. Many days he had 
not been there when it was his fortune to behold 
this monstrous giant, mounted upon a dreadful 
dragon, bearing upon his shoulder a club of iron, 


having but one eye, the which was placed in his 
forehead, and larger in compass than a barber's 
basin, and seemed to appear like a flaming fire. 
His visage was dreadful, grim and tawny ; the hair 
of his head hanging down his back and shoulders 
like snakes of a prodigious length ; the bristles of his 
beard being like rusty wire. Lifting up his blare 
eye, he happened to discover Sir Thomas Hickathrift, 
who was looking upon him from one of his windows 
of the castle. The giant then began to knit his 
brow and breathe forth threatening words to the 
governor, who, indeed, was a little surprised at the 
approach of so monstrous a brute. The giant, find- 
ing that Tom did not make much haste down to 
meet him, alighted from the back of the dragon, and 
chained the same to an oak-tree. Then, marching 
furiously . to the castLe, he set his broad shoulder 
against a corner of the stone walls, as if he intended 
to overthrow the whole building at once, which Tom 
perceiving, said — 

"Is this the game you would be at? Faith, I 
shall spoil your sport, for I have a delicate tool to 
pick your teeth withal." 

Then, taking his two-handed sword of five foot 
long, a weapon which the king had given him to 
govern with, — taking this, I say, down he went, and 
flinging open the gates, he there found the giant, who, 
_by an unfortunate slip in his thrusting, was fallen 
all along, where he lay and could not help himself. 

English. H 


" What ! " quoth Tom, " do you come here to take 
up your lodging] This is not to be suffered." 

With that he ran his long broad-sword into the 
giant's body, which made the monstrous brute give 
such a terrible groan that it seemed like roaring 
thunder, making the very neighbouring trees to 
tremble. Then Tom, pulling out his sword again, 
at six or seven blows separated his head from his 
unconscionable trunk, which head, when it was off, 
seemed like the root of a mighty oak. Then turn- 
ing to the dragon, which was all this while chained 
to a tree, without any further discourse, with four 
blows with his two-handed sword, he cut off his 
head also. This fortunate adventure being over, he 
sent immediately for a team of horses and a wagon, 
which he loaded with these heads. Then, summon- 
ing all the constables in the country for a guard, he 
sent them to the court, with a promise to his majesty 
that he would rid the whole island likewise of bears 
and lions before he left it. Tom's victories rang so 
long that they reached the ears of his old acquaint- 
ance the tinker, who, desirous of honour, resolved to 
go down and visit Tom in his new government. 
Coming there, he met with kind and loving enter- 
tainment, for they were very joyful to see one 
another. Now, after three or four days' enjoyment 
of one another's company, Tom told the tinker that 
he must needs go forth in search after wild bears 
and lions, in order to rout them out of the island. 


" Well," quoth the tinker, " I would gladly take 
my fortune with you, hoping that I may be service- 
able to you upon occasion." . 

" Well," quoth Tom, " with all my heart, for I 
must needs acknowledge I shall be right glad of 
your company." 

This said, they both went forward, Tom with his 
two-handed sword, and the tinker with his long pike- 
staff. Now, after they had travelled about four or 
five hours, it was their fortune to light on the whole 
knot of wild beasts together, of which six of them 
were bears, the other eight young lions. Now, when 
they had fastened their eyes on Tom and the tinker, 
these ravenous beasts began to roar and run furiously, 
as if they would have devoured them at a mouthful. 
Tom and the tinker stood, side by side, with their 
backs against an oak, and as the lions and bears 
came within their reach, Tom, with his long sword, 
clove their heads asunder till they were all destroyed, 
saving one lion who, seeing the rest of his fellows 
slain, was endeavouring to escape. Now the tinker, 
being somewhat too venturous, ran too hastily after 
him, and, having given the lion one blow, he turned 
upon him again, seizing him by the throat with that 
violence that the poor tinker fell dead to the ground. 
Tom Hickathrift, seeing this, gave the lion such a 
blow that it ended his life. 

Now was his joy mingled with sorrow, for though 
he had cleared the island of those ravenous savage 


beasts, yet his grief was intolerable for the loss of 
his old friend. Home he returned to his lady, 
where, in token of joy for the wonderful success 
which he had in his dangerous enterprises, he made 
a very noble and splendid feast, to which he invited 
most of his best friends and acquaintances, to whom 
he made the following promise — 

" My friends, while I have strength to stand, 

Most manfully I will pursue 
All dangers, till I clear this land 

Of lions, bears, and tigers too. 
This you '11 find true, or I 'm to blame, 

Let it remain upon record, 
Tom Hickathrift's most glorious fame, 

Who never yet has broke his word. 

The man who does his country bless 

Shall merit much from this fair land ; 
He who relieved them in distress 

His fame upon record shall stand. 
And you, my friends, who hear me now, 

Let honest Tom for ever dwell 
Within your minds and thoughts, I trow, 

Since he has pleased you all so well." 


Cobblers are a thoughtful race of men, and Tom 
Shanks was one of their number. He lived in the 
little village of Acton, in Suffolk, and it was there 
that an adventure befell him, which, as I am 
informed by a grandson of his, " had an effect on 
him from that day to this " — though the " this " in 
the present case is of a somewhat vague meaning, 
seeing that Tom has unfortunately been dead some 
twenty years at least. The terrible adventure that 
befell him was so much the subject of Tom's talk, 
that if ever tale could be handed down by means of 
oral tradition sure Tom's story should be intact in 
every detail. 

It seems that one day Tom left Acton on a 
journey — quite a remarkable event for him, for he 
was a quiet-going fellow, not given to running away 
from his last, but sitting contentedly in his little 
shop, busily employed in providing his neighbours 
with good foot-gear. On this day, however, Tom was 
called away by the intelligence that a sister of his, 
who was in service in a town some little distance 
away, was ill and wished to see him. The little 


cobbler was a man with a warm heart, and as soon 
as he received this ill news he laid aside a pair of 
shoes he was on for the parson, and which he was 
very anxious to finish, for the sooner he touched the 
money the better for him and his ; put on his best 
coat, took his stick in his hand, and, having bid 
farewell to his wife and three little ones, went on 
his way, looking back now and then to shake his 
stick to them, till he came to the turn in the road 
by the side of the high trees when he could see 
them no more. 

Well, he walked on, and being a stout-hearted 
little fellow without much flesh to carry, for cobbling 
did not even in those days bring in a fortune, and 
Tom and his folk often had hard times of it ; he, in 
the course of the morning, with a slice out of the 
afternoon, arrived at his destination. There, thank 
God, he found his sister much better than he might 
have expected, judging from the account he had 
heard of her, and having stayed an hour or two to 
rest his legs, and recruit his stomach with some 
beef and a pint of ale, he set out on his way home- 

The way back seemed much longer than it ought 
to have been, and Tom cleared the ground very 
slowly. Before he had gone far the night closed in ; 
but what was that to him, for he knew every inch 
of the road ; and as to thieves, why, he had little 
enough in his pocket to tempt them, and if need be — 


and Tom was not for his size deficient in courage — 
he had a good stout stick to defend himself with. 
Still it was dismal work that tramp through 
lonely lanes, with the trees standing on each side — 
not bright and lively as they had been in the day- 
time, with the sun shining on their leaves, and the 
wind rustling amongst them, but drawn up, still and 
dark, like sentinels watching in big cloaks. The 
day had closed in with clouds, which threatened to 
make the cobbler's journey more miserable with a 
down-pour of rain. But this fortunately kept off, 
and the moon, having risen, looked out now and then 
between the clouds, and a star or two winked in a 
style which brought comfort to Tom's heart — they 
seemed so companionable. 

So he went on and on, till at length he came to 
the neighbourhood of Acton again ; and glad enough 
he was once more to find himself in quarters where 
the very trees and gates and stiles seemed, as it were, 
to be old friends — Tom having been used to the 
sight of them daily for as many years as had passed 
since he was born, and those were not a few, for he 
was not exactly a chicken. 

Well, he came at length to the park gates, and 
was hurrying past them, for the spot had no 
particularly good name, and he remembered that he 
had heard some queer tales concerning sights folk 
had chanced to see there which they would very 
mucljL sooner have escaped, when on a sudden his 


legs seemed, as it were, to refuse to stir, and with 
his heart thumping against his ribs, as if it would 
beat a way out for itself, Tom came to a dead 
stand. What was it that he heard 1 It seemed 
like a rushing and grinding of stones, with a 
cracking like a body of men walking over dry sticks. 
It could not be the wind, for there was not a breath 
stirring, and the leaves on the trees lay perfectly 
still. The noise came nearer and nearer, and the 
next thought of Tom was that he would like to hide 
himself in some of the dark shadows around him. 
But his legs would not stir, and it was as much as 
he could do, with the aid of his stick, to hold him- 
self up on them. To make matters worse, the 
moon now, just as the cobbler was wishing for 
darkness, broke out from a cloud, and cast its light 
all about him, as if with the very object of showing 
him up. It is true the light enabled him to have a 
good look about him, but that was not a thing Tom 
very much cared about just then. 

He stood there a few moments, with the sound 
coming louder and louder, till it seemed to be just 
at hand. It was evidently in the park itself. Now 
it was at the gate. Then, all of a sudden, the gates 
swung back with a terrible clang, and there issued as 
strange a procession as Tom's, or indeed mortal's, 
eyes ever set on. First there came two grooms on 
horses, and then a carriage drawn by four large 
steeds, while two men rode behind. They were 


all goodly looking men enough, and the horses were, 
as Tom saw at a glance, as pretty pieces of flesh as 
any man might wish to throw leg across, but one 
thing struck horror to the cobbler's heart as he 
looked, for he saw that none of the horsemen had a 
head on him. On they dashed at a break-neck 
speed, their horses' hoofs seeming to dash fire from 
the stones on the road, while the wheels of the 
coach looked like four bright circles, so fast was it 
drawn over the ground. Cracking their whips, as if 
to urge the steeds on to even greater speed, the men 
rode on, nor did Tom hear them utter a word as 
they swept past him. 

As the coach went by him, and his eyes were 
glued upon it, the interior of the carriage seemed to 
him to be lighted up in some mysterious manner, 
and inside, Tom said, he clearly saw a gentleman 
and a lady, for such they evidently were by their 
dress, sitting side by side, but without heads like 
their attendants. 

Another minute and all was gone. Tom rubbed 
his eyes and wondered if he had not been asleep, 
but who ever heard of a man falling asleep standing 
up with no better prop than a stick in his hand 1 
He looked at the gates. They were closed and fast. 
He looked down the road, but could distinguish 
nothing. In the distance, however, he could hear 
the sound of, as it were, a big gust of wind gradually 
travelling away, while all around him was still. 


It did not take him long to get home after that, 
you may be sure, and when he told his story, 
though there were some that laughed and hinted 
that Tom was trying to make a hero of himself by 
pretending that he had seen what no one else of 
those he told the story to had set eyes on, yet 
the old folk remembered that they themselves had 
spoken with folk who had seen the very same sight 
for themselves, so I think that Tom Shanks has the 
very best claim to be considered the last man in the 
place who ever witnessed the progress of the spectre 


A very long time ago, I cannot tell you when, it is 
so long since, there lived in a town in Herefordshire 
a baker who used to sell bread to all the folk 
around. He was a mean, greedy man, who sought 
in every way to put money by, and who did not 
scruple to cheat such people as he was able when 
they came to his shop. 

He had a daughter who helped him in his business, 
being unmarried and living with him, and seeing 
how her father treated the people, and how he suc- 
ceeded in getting money by his bad practices, she, 
too, in time came to do the like. 

One day when her father was away, and the girl 
remained alone in the shop, an old woman came 
in — 

"My pretty girl," said she, "give me a bit of 
dough I beg of you, for I am old and hungry." 

The girl at first told her to be off, but as the old 
woman would not go, and begged harder than 
before for a piece of bread, at last the baker's 
daughter took up a piece of dough, and giving it to 
her, says — 



" There now, be off, and do not trouble me any 

" My dear," says the woman, " you have given me 
a piece of dough, let me bake it in your oven, for I 
have no place of my own to bake it in.' , 

"Very well," replied the girl, and, taking the 
dough, she placed it in the oven, while the old woman 
sat down to wait till it was baked. 

When the girl thought the bread should be ready 
she looked in the oven expecting to find there a 
small cake, and was very much amazed to find 
instead a very large loaf of bread. She pretended 
to look about the oven as if in search of something. 

"I cannot find the cake," said she. "It must 
have tumbled into the fire and got burnt." 

"Very well/' said the old woman, "give me 
another piece of dough instead and I will wait 
while it bakes." 

So the girl took another piece of dough, smaller 
than the first piece, and having put it in the oven, 
shut to the door. At the end of a few minutes or so 
she looked in again, and found there another loaf, 
larger than the last. 

" Dear me," said she, pretending to look about 
her, " I have surely lost the dough again. There 's 
no cake here." 

"Tis a pity," said the old woman, "but never 
mind. I will wait while you bake me another 

THE baker's daughter. 125 

So the baker's daughter took a piece of dough as 
small as one of her fingers and put it in the oven, 
while the old woman sat near. When she thought 
it ought to be baked, she looked into the oven and 
there saw a loaf, larger than either of the others. 

" That is mine/' said the old woman. 

" No," replied the girl. " How could such a large 
loaf have grown out of a little piece of dough 1 " 

" It is mine, it is sure," said the woman. 

"It is not," said the girl, "and you shall not 
have it." 

Well, when the old woman saw that the girl 
would not give her the loaf, and saw how she had 
tried to cheat her, for she was a fairy, and knew all 
the tricks that the baker's daughter had put upon 
her, she draws out from under her cloak a stick, 
and just touches the girl with it. Then a wonderful 
thing occurred, for the girl became all of a sudden 
changed into an owl, and flying about the room, at 
last, made for the door, and, finding it open, she flew 
out and was never seen again. 


" Another wonderful thing," says Ralph of Cogge- 
shall, "happened in Suffolk, at St. Mary's of the 

A boy and his sister were found by the inhabit- 
ants of that place near the mouth of a pit which is 
there, who had the form of all their limbs like to 
those of other men, but they were different in the 
colour of their skin from all the people of our 
habitable world, for the whole surface of their skin 
was tinged of a green colour. No one could under- 
stand their speech. 

When they were brought as curiosities to the 
house of a certain knight, Sir Richard de Calne, at 
Wikes, they wept bitterly. Bread and victuals were 
set before them, but they would touch none of them, 
though they were tormented by great hunger, as the 
girl afterwards acknowledged. At length when 
some beans, just cut, with their stalks, were brought 
into the house, they made signs, with great avidity, 
that they should be given to them. When they 
were brought they opened the stalks instead of the 
pods, thinking the beans were in the hollow of them. 



But not finding them there, they began to weep 
anew. When those who were present saw this, they 
opened the pods, and showed them the naked beans. 
They fed on these with great delight, and for a long 
time tasted no other food. The boy, however, was 
always languid and depressed, and he died within a 
short time. 

The girl enjoyed continual good health, and, be- 
coming accustomed to various kinds of food, lost 
completely that green colour, and gradually recovered 
the sanguine habit of her entire body. She was 
afterwards regenerated by the laver of holy baptism, 
and lived for many years in the service of that 
knight, as I have frequently heard from him and his 

Being frequently asked about the people of her 
country, she asserted that the inhabitants, and all 
they had in that country, were of a green colour, 
and that they saw no sun, but enjoyed a degree of 
light like what is after sunset. Being asked how 
she came into this country with the aforesaid boy, 
she replied, that, as they were following their flocks, 
they came to a certain cavern, on entering which 
they heard a delightful sound of bells, ravished by 
whose sweetness they went on for a long time 
wandering on through the cavern, until they came 
to its mouth. When they came out of it, they were 
struck senseless by the excessive light of the sun, 
and the unusual temperature of the air, and they 


thus lay for a long time. Being terrified by the 
noise of those who came on them, they wished to 
fly, but they could not find the entrance of the 
cavern before they were caught." 

This story is also told by William of Newbury, 
who places it in the reign of King Stephen. He 
says he long hesitated to believe it, but was at 
length overcome by the weight of evidence. Ac- 
cording to him, the place where the children 
appeared, was about four or five miles from Bury- 
St.-Edmund's. They came in harvest-time out of 
the Wolf-pits. They both lost their green hue, and 
were baptized, and learned English. The boy, who 
was the younger, died, but the girl married a man 
at Lenna, and lived many years. They said their 
country was called St. Martin's Land, as that saint 
was chiefly worshipped there ; that the people were 
Christians, and had churches ; that the sun did not 
rise there, but that there was a bright country which 
could be seen from theirs, being divided from it by 
a very broad river. 


[From a Chap-book printed at Paisley, by G. Caldwell, 
bookseller. Probable date, 1810] 

In the days of King Alfred there lived a poor 
woman whose cottage was situated in a remote 
country village, a great many miles from London. 

She had been a widow some years, and had an 
only child named Jack, whom she indulged to a 
fault. The consequence of her blind partiality was, 
that Jack did not pay the least attention to any- 
thing she said, but was indolent, careless, and ex- 
travagant. His follies were not owing to a bad 
disposition, but that his mother had never checked 
him. By degrees she disposed of all she possessed 
— scarcely anything remained but a cow. 

The poor woman one day met Jack with tears in 
her eyes. Her distress was great, and, for the first 
time in her life, she could not help reproaching him, 

" you wicked child ! by your ungrateful 
course of life you have at last brought me to 
beggary and ruin. Cruel, cruel boy ! I have not 

English. I \ \ 


money enough to purchase even a bit of bread for 
another day. Nothing now remains to sell but my 
poor cow. I am sorry to part with her. It grieves 
me sadly, but we must not starve." 

For a few minutes Jack felt a degree of remorse, 
but it was soon over, and he began teasing his 
mother to let him sell the cow at the next village 
so much, that she at last consented. 

As he was going along he met a butcher, who 
inquired why he was driving the cow from home. 
Jack replied he was going to sell it. The butcher 
held some curious beans in his hat that were of 
various colours and attracted Jack's notice. This 
did not pass unnoticed by the butcher, who, know- 
ing Jack's easy temper, thought now was the time 
to take advantage of it, and, determined not to let 
slip so good an opportunity, asked what was the 
price of the cow, offering at the same time all the 
beans in his hat for her. The silly boy could not 
conceal the pleasure he felt at what he supposed so 
great an offer. The bargain was struck instantly, 
and the cow exchanged for a few paltry beans. 
Jack made the best of his way home, calling aloud 
to his mother before he reached the house, thinking 
to surprise her. 

When she saw the beans and heard Jack's account, 
her patience quite 'forsook her. She kicked the 
beans away in a passion — they flew in all directions 
— some were scattered in the garden. Not having 


anything to eat, they both went supperless to 

Jack awoke very early in the morning, and see- 
ing something uncommon from the window of his 
bed-chamber, ran downstairs into the garden, where 
he soon discovered that some of the beans had taken 
root and sprung up surprisingly. The stalks were of 
an immense thickness, and had so entwined that they 
formed a ladder nearly like a chain in appearance. 

Looking upwards, he could not discern the top. 
It appeared to be lost in the clouds. He tried the 
stalk, found it firm, and not to be shaken. He 
quickly formed the resolution of endeavouring to 
climb up to the top in order to seek his fortune, 
and ran to communicate his intention to his mother, 
not doubting but she would be equally pleased with 
himself. She declared he should not go ; said it 
would break her heart if he did; entreated and 
threatened, but all in vain. 

Jack set out, and, after climbing for some hours, 
reached the top of the beanstalk, fatigued and quite 
exhausted. Looking around, he found himself in a 
strange country. It appeared to be a desert, quite 
barren, not a tree, shrub, house, or living creature 
to be seen. Here and there were scattered frag- 
ments of stone, and at unequal distances small heaps 
of earth were loosely thrown together. 

Jack seated himself, pensively, upon a block of 
stone, and thought of his mother. He reflected 


with sorrow on his disobedience in climbing the 
beanstalk against her will, and concluded that he 
must die of hunger. 

However, he walked on, hoping to see a house 
where he might beg something to eat and drink. 
Presently a handsome young woman appeared at a 
distance. As she approached Jack could not help 
admiring how beautiful and lively she looked. She 
was dressed in the most elegant manner, and had a 
small white wand in her hand, on the top of which 
was a peacock of pure gold. 

While Jack was looking, with the greatest sur- 
prise, at this charming female, she came up to him, 
and, with a smile of the most bewitching sweetness, 
inquired how he came there. Jack related the 
circumstance of the beanstalk. She asked him if 
he recollected his father. He replied he did not, 
and added there must be some mystery relating 
to him, because if he asked his mother who his 
father was she always burst into tears and appeared 
to be violently agitated, nor did she recover her- 
self for some days after. One thing, however, he 
could not avoid observing on these occasions, which 
was, that she always carefully avoided answering 
him, and even seemed afraid of speaking, as if 
there were some secret connected with his father's 
history which she must not disclose. 

The young woman replied — 

"I will reveal the whole story. Your mother 


must not do so. But before I begin I require a 
solemn promise on your part to do what I com- 
mand. I am a fairy, and, if you do not perform 
exactly what I desire, you will be destroyed." 

Jack was frightened at her menaces, and promised 
to fulfil her injunctions exactly, and the fairy thus 
addressed him — 

" Your father was a rich man. His disposition 
was very benevolent. He was very good to the 
poor, and constantly relieved them. He made it a 
rule never to let a day pass without doing good to 
some person. On one particular day in the week 
he kept open house, and invited only those who 
were reduced and had lived well. He always pre- 
sided himself, and did all in his power to render 
his guests comfortable. The rich and the great 
were next invited. The servants were all happy 
and greatly attached to their master and mistress. 
Your father, though only a private gentleman, was 
as rich as a prince, and he deserved all he possessed, 
for he only lived to do good. Such a man was 
soon known and talked of. A giant lived a great 
many miles off. This man was altogether as wicked 
as your father was good. He was, in his heart, 
envious, covetous, and cruel, but he had the art of 
concealing those vices. He was poor, and wished 
to enrich himself at any rate. 

" Hearing your father spoken of, he formed the 
design of becoming acquainted with him, hoping to 


ingratiate himself into your father's favour. He 
removed quickly into your neighbourhood, and 
caused it to be reported that he was a gentleman 
who had just lost all he possessed by an earthquake 
and had found it difficult to escape with his life. 
His wife was with him. Your father gave credit 
to his story and pitied him. He gave him hand- 
some apartments in his own house, and caused him 
and his wife to be treated like visitors of con- 
sequence, little imagining that the giant was under- 
taking a horrid return for all his favours. 

"Things went on this way for some time, the 
giant becoming daily more impatient to put his plan 
in execution. At last a favourable opportunity 
presented itself. Your father's house was at some 
distance from the sea-shore, but with a glass the 
coast could be seen distinctly. The giant was one 
day using the telescope ; the wind was very high, 
and he saw a fleet of ships in distress off the rocks. 
He hastened to your father, mentioned the circum- 
stance, and eagerly requested he would send all the 
servants he could spare to relieve the sufferers. 

" Every one was instantly despatched, except the 
porter and your nurse. The giant then joined 
your father in the study, and appeared to be de- 
lighted. He really was so. Your father recom- 
mended a favourite book, and was handing it down, 
when the giant, taking the opportunity, stabbed 
him, and he instantly fell down dead. The giant 


left the body, found the porter and nurse, and 
presently despatched them, being determined to 
have no living witnesses of his crimes. 

"You were then only three months old. Your 
mother had you in her arms in a remote part of the 
house, and was ignorant of what was going on. 
She went into the study, but how was she shocked 
on discovering your father dead. She was stupefied 
with horror and grief, and was motionless. The 
giant, who was seeking her, found her in that state, 
and hastened to serve her and you as he had done 
your father, but she fell at his feet, and, in a 
pathetic manner, besought him to spare her life 
and yours. 

" Eemorse, for a moment, seemed to touch the 
barbarian's heart. He granted your lives, but first 
he made her take a most solemn oath never to inform 
you who your father was, or to answer any questions 
concerning him, assuring her that if she did he 
would certainly discover her and put both of you to 
death in the most cruel manner. Your mother took 
you in her arms and fled as quickly as possible. 
She was scarcely gone when the giant repented he 
had suffered her to escape. He would have pursued 
her instantly, but he had to provide for his own 
safety, as it was necessary he should be gone before 
the servants returned. Having gained your father's 
confidence he knew where to find all his treasure. 
He soon loaded himself and his wife, set the house 


on fire in several places, and, when the servants 
returned, the house was burnt quite down to the 

"Your poor mother, forlorn, abandoned, and for- 
saken, wandered with you a great many miles from 
this scene of desolation. Fear added to her haste. 
She settled in the cottage where you were brought 
up, and it was entirely owing to her fear of the 
giant that she never mentioned your father to you. 

" I became your father's guardian at his birth, but 
fairies have laws to which they are subject as well 
as mortals. A short time before the giant went to 
your father's I transgressed. My punishment was a 
suspension of power for a limited time — an unfor- 
tunate circumstance — for it totally prevented my 
succouring your father. 

" The day on which you met the butcher, as you 
went to sell your mother's cow, my power was re- 
stored. It was I who secretly prompted you to take 
the beans in exchange for the cow. 

"By my power the beanstalk grew to so great a 
height and formed a ladder. I need not add I in- 
spired you with a strong desire to ascend the ladder. 

" The giant lives in this country, and you are the 
person appointed to punish him for all his wicked- 
ness. You will have dangers and difficulties to 
encounter, but you must persevere in avenging the 
death of your father, or you will not prosper in any 
of your undertakings, but be always miserable. 


" As to the giant's possessions, you may seize on 
all you can, for everything he has is yours though 
now you are unjustly deprived of it. One thing I 
desire. Do not let your mother know you are 
acquainted with your father's history till you see me 

" Go along the direct road, and you will soon see 
the house where your cruel enemy lives. While 
you do as I order you I will protect and guard you, 
but, remember, if you dare disobey my commands, a 
most dreadful punishment awaits you." 

When the fairy had concluded, she disappeared 
leaving Jack to pursue his journey. He walked on 
till after sunset when, to his great joy, he espied a 
large mansion. This agreeable sight revived his 
drooping spirits, and he redoubled his speed, and 
soon reached the house. A plain-looking woman 
was at the door, and Jack accosted her, begging she 
would give him a morsel of bread and a night's 

She expressed the greatest surprise at seeing him, 
and said it was quite uncommon to see a human 
being near their house, for it was well known her 
husband was a large and very powerful giant, and 
that he would never eat anything but human flesh, 
if he could possibly get it ; that he did not think 
anything of walking fifty miles to procure it, usually 
being out the whole day for that purpose. 

This account greatly terrified Jack, but still he 


hoped to elude the giant, and therefore he again 
entreated the woman to take him in for one night 
only, and hide him where she thought proper. The 
good woman at last suffered herself to be persuaded, 
for she was of a compassionate and generous dis- 
position, and took him into the house. 

First they entered a fine large hall, magnificently 
furnished. They then passed through several 
spacious rooms, all in the same style of grandeur, 
but they appeared to be quite forsaken and deso- 

A long gallery was next. It was very dark, with 
just light enough to show that, instead of a wall, on 
one side there was a grating of iron which parted 
off a dismal dungeon, from whence issued the groans 
of those poor victims whom the cruel giant reserved 
in confinement for his own voracious appetite. 

Poor Jack was half dead with fear, and would 
have given the world to have been with his mother 
again, for he now began to fear that he should never 
see her more, and gave himself up for lost. He 
even mistrusted the good woman, and thought she 
had let him into the house for no other purpose 
than to lock him up among the unfortunate people 
in the dungeon. 

At the further end of the gallery there was a 
spacious kitchen, and a very excellent fire was burn- 
ing in the grate. The good woman bade Jack sit 
down, and gave him plenty to eat and drink. Jack, 


not seeing anything here to make him uncomfort- 
able, soon forgot his fear, and was just beginning 
to enjoy himself when he was aroused by a loud 
knocking at the street-door, which made the whole 
house shake. The giant's wife ran to secure Jack 
in the oven and then went to let her husband in. 

Jack heard him accost her in a voice like thunder, 

" Wife, I smell fresh meat." 

" Oh, my dear," replied she, " it is nothing but 
the people in the dungeon.'' 

The giant appeared to believe her, and walked 
into the very kitchen where poor Jack was concealed, 
who shook, trembled, and was more terrified than he 
had yet been. 

At last the. monster seated himself quietly by the 
fireside, whilst his wife prepared supper. By degrees 
Jack recovered himself sufficiently to look at the 
giant through a small crevice. He was quite 
astonished to see what an amazing quantity he 
devoured, and thought he would never have done 
eating and drinking. When supper was ended the 
giant desired his wife to bring him his hen. A 
very beautiful hen was brought and placed on the 
table before him. Jack's curiosity was very great 
to see what would happen. He observed that every 
time the giant said " Lay," the hen laid an egg of 
solid gold. 

The giant amused himself a long while with his 


hen, and meanwhile his wife went to bed. At 
length the giant fell asleep by the fireside and snored 
like the roaring of a cannon. At daybreak Jack, 
finding the giant still asleep, and not likely to awaken 
soon, crept softly out of his hiding-place, seized the 
hen, and ran off with her. 

He met with some difficulty in finding his way 
out of the house, but, at last, he reached the road in 
safety. He easily found his way to the beanstalk 
and descended it better and quicker than he had ex- 
pected. His mother was overjoyed to see him. He 
found her crying bitterly, and lamenting his hard 
fate, for she concluded he had come to some shock- 
ing end through his rashness. 

Jack was impatient to show his hen, and inform 
his mother how valuable it was. 

" And now, mother," said Jack, " I have brought 
home that which will make us rich, and I hope to 
make some amends for the affliction I have caused 
you through my idleness, extravagance, and folly." 

The hen produced as many golden eggs as they 
desired, which Jack and his mother sold, and so in 
a little time became possessed of as much riches as 
they wanted. 

For some months Jack and his mother lived very 
happily together, but he, being very desirous of 
travelling, recollecting the fairy's commands, and 
fearing that if he delayed she would put her threats 
into execution, longed to climb the beanstalk and 


pay the giant another visit, in order to carry away 
some more of his treasure, for, during the time that 
Jack was in the giant's mansion, while he lay con- 
cealed in the oven, he learned, from the conversation 
that took place between the giant and his wife, 
that he possessed some wonderful curiosities. Jack 
thought of his journey again and again, but still he 
could not summon resolution enough to break it to 
his mother, being well assured she would endeavour 
to prevent his going. However, one day he told 
her boldly that he must take a journey up the bean- 
stalk. His mother begged and prayed him not to 
think of it, and tried all in her power to dissuade 
him. She told him that the giant's wife would 
certainly know him again, and the giant would 
desire nothing better than to get him into his power, 
that he might put him to a cruel death in order to 
be revenged for the loss of his hen. 

Jack, finding that all his arguments were useless, 
pretended to give up the point, though he was 
resolved to go at all events. He had a dress pre- 
pared which would disguise him, and something to 
colour his skin, and he thought it impossible for 
any one to recollect him in this dress. 

In a few mornings after this, he rose very early, 
changed his complexion, and, unperceived by any 
one, climbed the beanstalk a second time. He was 
greatly fatigued when he reached the top, and very 


Having rested some time on on of the stones, lie 
pursued his journey to the giant's mansion. He 
reached it late in the evening, and found the woman 
at the door as before. Jack addressed her, at the 
same time telling her a pitiful tale, and requesting 
she would give him some victuals and drink, and 
also a night's lodging. 

She told him (what he knew very well before) 
about her husband's being a powerful and cruel 
giant and also how she one night admitted a poor, 
hungry, friendless boy, who was half dead with 
travelling, and that the ungrateful fellow had stolen 
one of the giant's treasures, ever since which her 
husband had been worse than before, had used her 
very cruelly, and continually upbraided her with 
being the cause of his loss. 

Jack was at no loss to discover that he was 
attending to the account of a story in which he was 
the principal actor. He did his best to persuade 
the old woman to admit him, but found it a very 
hard task. 

At last she consented, and as she led the way 
Jack observed that everything was just as he had 
found it before. She took him into the kitchen, and 
after he had done eating and drinking, she hid him 
in an old lumber closet. The giant returned at the 
usual time, and walked in so heavily that the house 
was shaken to the foundation. He seated himself 
by the fire, and, soon after, exclaimed — 


" Wife, I smell fresh meat." 

The wife replied it was the crows, which had 
brought a piece of raw meat and left it on the top 
of the house. 

Whilst supper was preparing, the giant was very 
ill-tempered and impatient, frequently lifting up his 
hand to strike his wife for not being quick enough, 
but she was always so fortunate as to elude the 
blow. The giant was also continually upbraiding 
her with the loss of his wonderful hen. 

The giant's wife, having set supper on the table, 
went to another apartment and brought from it a 
huge pie which she also placed before him. 

When he had ended his plentiful supper and eaten 
till he was quite satisfied, he said to his wife — 

" I must have something to amuse me, either my 
bags of money or my harp." 

After a good deal of ill-humour, and after having 
teased his wife for some time, he commanded her to 
bring down his bags of gold and silver. Jack, as 
before, peeped out of his hiding place, and presently 
the wife brought two bags into the room. They 
were of a very large size. One was filled with new 
guineas, and the other with new shillings. They 
were placed before the giant, who began reprimand- 
ing his poor wife most severely for staying so long. 
She replied, trembling with fear, that they were so 
heavy she could scarcely lift them, and concluded by 
saying she would never again bring them downstairs, 


adding that she had nearly fainted owing to their 

This so exasperated the giant that he raised his 
hand to strike her, but she escaped and went to bed, 
leaving him to count over his treasure by way of 

The giant took his bags, and after turning them 
over and over to see they were in the same state 
he had left them, began to count their contents. 
First the bag which contained the silver was emptied, 
and the contents placed upon the table. Jack viewed 
the glittering heaps with delight, and most heartily 
wished them in his own possession. The giant (little 
thinking he was so narrowly watched) reckoned the 
silver over several times, and then, having satisfied 
himself that all was safe, put it into the bags again, 
which he made very secure. 

The other bag was opened next, and the guineas 
placed upon the table. If Jack was pleased at the 
sight of the silver, how much more delighted must 
he have felt when he saw such a heap of glittering 
gold ? He even had the boldness to think of gaining 
both bags, but, suddenly recollecting himself, he 
began to fear that the giant would sham sleep, the 
better to entrap any one who might be concealed. 

When the giant had counted over the gold till he 
was tired, he put it up, if possible more secure than 
he had put up the silver before, and he then fell 
back on his chair by the fireside and fell asleep. 


He snored so loud that Jack compared his noise to 
the roaring of the sea in a high wind, when the tide is 
coming in. At last Jack concluded him to be asleep 
and therefore secure. He stole out of his hiding- 
place and approached the giant, in order to carry off 
the two bags of money. Just as he laid his hand 
upon one of the bags a little dog, which he had not 
observed before, started from under the giant's chair 
and barked at Jack most furiously, who now gave 
himself up for lost. Fear rivetted him to the spot, 
and instead of endeavouring to escape he stood still, 
though expecting his enemy to awake every instant. 
Contrary, however, to his expectation the giant con- 
tinued in a sound sleep, and the dog grew weary of 
barking. Jack now began to recollect himself, and, 
on looking around, saw a large piece of meat. This 
he threw to the dog, who instantly seized it, and 
took it into the lumber-closet which Jack had just 

Finding himself delivered from a noisy and 
troublesome enemy, and seeing the giant did not 
awake, Jack boldly seized the bags, and, throwing 
them over his shoulders, ran out of the kitchen. 
He reached the street-door in safety, and found it 
quite daylight. On his way to the top of the bean- 
stalk he found himself greatly incommoded with the 
weight of the money bags, and, really, they were so 
heavy he could scarcely carry them. 

Jack was overjoyed when he found himself near 

English. -g 


the beanstalk. He soon reached the bottom and 
ran to meet his mother. To his great surprise the 
cottage was deserted. He ran from one room to 
another without being able to find any one. He 
then hastened into the village, hoping to see some 
of his neighbours, who could inform him where he 
could find her. 

An old woman at last directed him to a neigh- 
bouring house, where his mother was ill of a fever. 
He was greatly shocked on finding her apparently 
dying, and could scarcely bear his own reflections 
on knowing himself to be the cause of it. 

On being informed of our hero's safe return, his 
mother, by degrees, revived, and gradually recovered. 
Jack presented her his two valuable bags, and they 
lived happy and comfortably. The cottage was 
rebuilt and well furnished. 

For three years Jack heard no more of the bean- 
stalk, but he could not forget it, though he feared 
making his mother unhappy. She would not mention 
the hated beanstalk, lest her doing so should remind 
him of taking another journey. 

Notwithstanding the comforts Jack enjoyed at 
home, his mind continually dwelt upon the bean- 
stalk, for the fairy's menaces in case of his dis- 
obedience were ever present to his mind and pre- 
vented him from being happy. He could think of 
nothing else. It was in vain he endeavoured to 
amuse himself. He became thoughtful, would arise 


at the first dawn of day, and would view the bean- 
stalk for hours together. 

His mother discovered that something preyed 
heavily upon his mind, and endeavoured to discover 
the cause, but Jack knew too well what the con- 
sequence would be should he discover the cause of 
his melancholy to her. He did his utmost, therefore, 
to conquer the great desire he had for another 
journey up the beanstalk. Finding, however, that 
his inclination grew too powerful for him, he began 
to make secret preparations for his journey, and, on 
the longest day, arose as soon as it was light, as- 
cended the beanstalk, and reached the top with some 
little trouble. He found the road, journey, etc., 
much as it was on the two former times. He 
arrived at the giant's mansion in the evening, and 
found his wife standing, as usual, at the door. 
Jack had disguised himself so completely that she 
did not appear to have the least recollection of him. 
However, when he pleaded hunger and poverty in 
order to gain admittance, he found it very difficult, 
indeed, to persuade her. At last he prevailed, and 
was concealed in the copper. 

When the giant returned, he said — 

" I smell fresh meat," but Jack felt composed, for 
the giant had said so before, and had been soon 
satisfied ; however, the giant started up suddenly and 
searched all round the room. Whilst this was 
going forward Jack was exceedingly terrified, and 


ready to die with fear, wishing himself at home a 
thousand times, but when the giant approached the 
copper, and put his hand upon the lid, Jack thought 
his death was certain. The giant ended his search 
there without moving the lid, and seated himself 
quietly by the fireside. 

The giant at last ate a hearty supper, and when 
he had finished, he commanded his wife to fetch 
down his harp. Jack peeped under the copper lid 
and soon saw the most beautiful harp that could be 
imagined. It was placed by the giant on the table, 
who said — 

"Play," and it instantly played of its own accord, 
without being touched. The music was uncommonly 
fine. Jack was delighted, and felt more anxious to 
get the harp into his possession than either of the 
former treasures. 

The giant's soul was not attuned to harmony, and 
the music soon lulled him into a sound sleep. Now, 
therefore, was the time to carry off the harp. As 
the giant appeared to be in a more profound sleep 
than usual, Jack, soon determined, got out of the 
copper and seized the harp. The harp, however, 
was enchanted by a fairy, and it called out loudly — 

" Master, master ! " 

The giant awoke, stood up, and tried to pursue 
Jack, but he had drunk so much that he could 
hardly stand. Poor Jack ran as fast as he could, 
and, in a little time, the giant recovered sufficiently 


to walk slowly, or rather, to reel after him. Had 
he been sober he must have overtaken Jack instantly, 
but as he then was, Jack contrived to be first at the 
top of the beanstalk. The giant called after him in 
a voice like thunder, and sometimes was very near 

The moment Jack got down the beanstalk he 
called out for a hatchet, and one was brought him 
directly. Just at that instant the giant was 
beginning to descend, but Jack with his hatchet cut 
the beanstalk close off at the root, which made the 
giant fall headlong into the garden. The fall killed 
him, thereby releasing the world from a barbarous 

Jack's mother was delighted when she saw the 
beanstalk destroyed. At this instant the fairy 
appeared. She first addressed Jack's mother, and 
explained every circumstance relating to the journeys 
up the beanstalk. The fairy then charged Jack to 
be dutiful to his mother, and to follow his father's 
good example, which was the only way to be happy. 
She then disappeared. Jack heartily begged his 
mother's pardon for all the sorrow and affliction he 
had caused her, promising most faithfully to be very 
dutiful and obedient to her for the future. 


"Yes, cats are queer folk, sure enough, and often 
know more than a simple beast ought to by know- 
ledge that's rightly come by. There's that cat 
there, you 've been looking at, will stand at a door 
on its hind legs with its front paws on the handle 
trying like a Christian to open the door, and 
mewling in a manner that's almost like talking. 
He 's a London cat, he is, being brought me by a 
cousin who lives there, and is called Gilpin, after, 
I'm told, a mayor who was christened the same. 
He 's a knowing cat, sure enough ; but it 's not the 
London cats that are cleverer than the country 
ones. Who knows, he may be a relative of Johnny 
Reed's own tom-cat himself." 

" And who was Johnny Reed 1 and what was 
there remarkable about his cat % " 

"Have you never heard tell of Johnny Reed's 
cat? It's an old tale they have in the north 
country, and it 's true enough, though folk may not 
believe it in these days when the Bible 's not gospel 
enough for some of them. I've heard my father 
often tell the story, and he came from Newcastle 



way, which is the very part where Johnny Keed 
used to live, being a parish sexton in a village not far 

"Well, Johnny Reed was the sexton, as I've 
already said, and he and his wife kept a cat, a well 
enough behaved creature, sure enough, and a beast 
as he had no fault to set on, saving a few of the 
tricks which all cats play at times, and which seem 
born in the blood of the creatures. It was all black 
except one white paw, and seemed as honest and 
decent a beast as could be, and Tom would as soon 
have suspected it of being any more than it really 
seemed to be as he would one of his own children 
themselves, like many other folk, perhaps, who, may 
be, have cats of the same kind, little thinking it. 

" Well, the cat had been with him some years 
when a strange thing occurred. 

"One night Johnny was going home late from 
the churchyard, where he had been digging a grave 
for a person who had died on a sudden, throwing 
the grave on Johnny's hands unexpectedly, so that 
he had to stop working at it by the light of a 
lantern to have it ready for the next day's burying. 
Well, having finished his work, and having put his 
tools in the shed in a corner of the yard, and having 
locked them up safe, he began to walk home pretty 
brisk, thinking would his wife be up and have a bit 
of fire for him, for the night was cold, a keen wind 
blowing over the fields. 


" He hadn't gone far before he comes to a gate at 
the roadside, and there seemed to be a strange 
shadow about it, in which Johnny saw, as it might be, 
a lot of little gleaming fires dancing about, while 
some stood steady, just like flashes of light from 
little windows in buildings all on fire inside. Says 
Johnny to himself, for he was not a man to be easily 
frightened, being accustomed by his calling to face 
things which might upset other folk — 

"< Hullo! What's here? Here's a thing I 
never saw before/ and with that he walks straight 
up to the gate, while the shadow got deeper and the 
fires brighter the nearer he came to it. 

"Well, when he came right up to the gate he 
finds that the shadow was just none at all, but nine 
black cats, some sitting and some dancing about, 
and the lights were the flashes from their eyes. 
When he came nearer he thought to scare them off, 
and he calls out — 

" ' Sh — sh — sh,' but never a cat stirs for all 
of it. 

"'I'll soon scatter you, you ugly varmin,' says 
Johnny, looking about him for a stone, which was 
not to be found, the night being dark and prevent- 
ing him seeing one. Just then he hears a voice 
calling — 

" < Johnny Reed ! ' 

" ' Hullo ! ' says he, i who 's that wants me % ' 

" ' Johnny Reed,' says the voice again. 


"'Well/ says Johnny, 'I'm here/ and looking 
round and seeing no one, for no one was about 'tis 
true. ' Was it one of you/ says he, joking like, to the 
cats, ( as was calling me 1 ' 

" ' Yes, of course/ answers one of them, as plain as 
ever Christian spoke. ' It 's me as has called you 
these three times.' 

" Well, with that, you may be sure, Johnny begins 
to feel curious, for 'twas the first time he had ever 
been spoken to by a cat, and he didn't know what 
it might lead to exactly. So he takes off his hat 
to the cat, thinking that it was, perhaps, best to 
show it respect, and, seeing that he was unable to 
guess with whom he was dealing, hoping to come off 
all the better for a little civility. 

" ' Well, sir/ says he, * what can I do for you V 

" * It 's not much as I want with you/ says the cat, 
' but it 's better it '11 be with you if you do what I 
tell you. Tell Dan Eatcliffe that Peggy Poyson 's 

" ' I will, sir,' says Johnny, wondering at the same 
time how he was to do it, for who Dan Eatcliffe was 
he knew no more than the dead. Well, with that 
all the cats vanished, and Johnny, running the rest 
of the way home, rushes into his house, smoking hot 
from the fright and the distance he had to go over. 

" ' Nan/ says he to his wife, the first words he 
spoke, ' who 's Dan Eatcliffe V 

" ' Dan Eatcliffe/ says she. ' I never heard of him, 


and don't know there's any one such living about 

" ' No more do 1/ says he, ' but I must find him 
wherever he is/ 

" Then he tells his wife all about how he had met 
the cats, and how they had stopped him and given 
him the message. Well, his cat sits there" in front 
of the fire looking as snug and comfortable as a cat 
could be, and nearly half-asleep, but when Johnny 
comes to telling his wife the message the cats had 
given him, then it jumped up on its feet, and looks 
at Johnny, and says — 

" ' What ! is Peggy Poyson dead ] Then it 's no 
time for me to be here ; ' and with that it springs 
through the door and vanishes, nor was ever seen 
again from that day to this." 

" And did the sexton ever find Dan Ratcliffe," I 

" Never. He searched high and low for him 
about, but no one could tell him of such a person, 
though Johnny looked long enough, thinking it 
might be the worse for him if he didn't do his best 
to please the cats. At last, however, he gave the 
matter up." 

" Then, what was the meaning of the cat's mes- 
sage V y 

" It 's hard to tell ; but many folk thought, and 
I 'm inclined to agree with them, that Dan Ratcliffe 
was Johnny's own cat, and no one else, looking at 


the way he acted, and no other of the name being 
known. Who Peggy Poyson was no one could tell, 
but likely enough it was some relative of the cat, or 
may be some one it was interested in, for it 's little 
we know concerning the creatures and their ways, 
and with whom and what they 're mixed up." 


Two Devonshire serving-maids declared, as an ex- 
cuse perhaps for spending more money than they 
ought upon finery, that the pixies were very kind to 
them, and would often drop silver for their pleasure 
into a bucket of fair water, which they placed for 
the accommodation of those little beings every night 
in the chimney-corner before they went to bed. 
Once, however, it was forgotten; and the pixies, 
finding themselves disappointed by an empty bucket, 
whisked up-stairs to the maids' bedroom, popped 
through the keyhole, and began, in a very audible 
tone, to exclaim against the laziness and neglect of 
the damsels. 

One of them, who lay awake and heard all this, 
jogged her fellow- servant, and proposed getting up 
immediately to repair the fault of omission ; but the 
lazy girl, who liked not being disturbed out of a 
comfortable nap, pettishly declared " That, for her 
part, she would not stir out of bed to please all the 
pixies in Devonshire." The good-humoured damsel, 
however, got up, filled the bucket, and was rewarded 
by a handful of silver pennies found in it the next 



morning. But, ere that time had arrived, what was 
her alarm, as she crept towards the bed, to hear all 
the elves in high and stern debate consulting as to 
what punishment should be inflicted on the lazy lass 
who would not stir for their pleasure. 

Some proposed " pinches, nips, and bobs," others 
to spoil her new cherry-coloured bonnet and ribands. 
One talked of sending her the toothache, another of 
giving her a red nose, but this last was voted too 
severe and vindictive a punishment for a pretty 
young woman. So, tempering mercy with justice, 
the pixies were kind enough to let her off with a 
lame leg, which was so to continue only for seven 
years, and was alone to be cured by a certain herb, 
growing on Dartmoor, whose long and learned and 
very difficult name the elfin judge pronounced in a 
high and audible voice. It was a name of seven 
syllables, seven being also the number of years 
decreed for the chastisement. 

The good-natured maid, wishing to save her 
fellow-damsel so long a suffering, tried with might 
and main to bear in mind the name of this potent 
herb. She said it over and over again, tied a knot 
in her garter at every syllable, in order to assist 
her memory, and thought she had the word as 
sure as her own name, and very possibly felt much 
more anxious about retaining the one than the other. 
At length she dropped asleep, and did not wake till 
~ the morning. Now, whether her head might be like 


a sieve, that lets out as fast as it takes in, or whether 
the over-exertion to remember caused her to forget, 
cannot he determined, but certain it is when she 
opened her eyes, she knew nothing at all about the 
matter, excepting that Molly was to go lame on her 
right leg for seven long years, unless a herb with 
a strange name could be got to cure her. And lame 
she went for nearly the whole of that period. 

At length (it was about the end of the time) a 
merry, squint-eyed, queer-looking boy started up 
one fine summer day, just as she went to pluck a 
mushroom, and came tumbling, head over heels, 
towards her. He insisted on striking her leg with a 
plant which he held in his hand. From that 
moment she got well, and lame Molly, as a reward 
for her patience in suffering, became the best dancer 
in the whole town at the celebrated festivities of 
May-day on the green. 


In the year before the great rebellion two young 
men from Newcastle were sporting on the high 
moors above Elsdon, and, after pursuing their game 
several hours, sat down to dine in a green glen, 
near one of the mountain streams. After their 
repast, the younger lad ran to the brook for water, 
and, after stooping to drink, was surprised, on lift- 
ing his head again, by the appearance of a brown 
dwarf, who stood on a crag covered with brackens 
across the burn. This extraordinary personage did 
not appear to be above half the stature of a common 
man, but was uncommonly stout and broad-built, 
having the appearance of vast strength. His dress 
was entirely brown, the colour of the brackens, 
and his head covered with frizzled red hair. His 
countenance was expressive of the most savage 
ferocity, and his eyes glared like those of a bull. 

It seems he addressed the young man, first 
threatening him with his vengeance for having 
trespassed on his demesnes, and asking him if he 
knew in whose presence he stood. The youth 
replied that he supposed him to be the lord of the 


moors ; that he had offended through ignorance ; and 
offered to bring him the game he had killed. The 
dwarf was a little mollified by this submission, but 
remarked that nothing could be more offensive to 
him than such an offer, as he considered the wild 
animals as his subjects, and never failed to avenge 
their destruction. He condescended further to in- 
form the young man that he was, like himself, 
mortal, though of years far exceeding the lot of 
common humanity, and that he hoped for salvation. 
He never, he added, fed on anything that had life, 
but lived in the summer on whortle berries, and in 
winter on nuts and apples, of which he had great 
store in the woods. Finally, he invited his new 
acquaintance to accompany him home and partake 
his hospitality, an offer which the youth was on the 
point of accepting, and was just going to spring 
across the brook (which if he had done, the dwarf 
would certainly have torn him to pieces) when his 
foot was arrested by the voice of his companion, 
who thought he had tarried long. On his looking 
round again " the wee brown man was fled." 
• The story adds that the young man was imprudent 
enough to slight the admonition, and to sport over 
the moors on his way homewards, but soon after his 
return he fell into a lingering disorder, and died 
within a year. 


It chanced that once upon a time Jong years ago, in 
the days when strange things used to happen in the 
world, and the devil himself used sometimes to walk 
about in it in a bare-faced fashion, to the distraction 
of all good and bad folk alike, he came to a very 
small town where he resolved to stay a while to 
play some of his tricks. How it was, whether the 
people were better or were worse than he expected 
to find them, whether they would not give way to 
him, or whether they went beyond him and out- 
witted him, I don't know, and so cannot say ; but 
sure it is that in a short while he became terribly 
angry with the folk, and at length was so disgusted 
that he threatened he would make them repent 
their treatment of him, for he would punish them 
in a manner which should show them his power. 
With that he flew off in a fury, and the folk, know- 
ing with whom they had to deal, were very sad 
thinking what terrible thing would overtake them, 
and at their wits' end to imagine how they might 
manage to escape the claws of the Evil One. 

English. L 


Accordingly it was decided to call a meeting of 
the townsfolk, to which all, old and young, should 
come to deliver their opinion as to the best course 
to be pursued, only those too old to walk, the sick, 
and the foolish, being not called to the council. 

Very many different courses were proposed, and 
while these were being debated a man rushed into 
the hall where the council was held, and informed 
them that their enemy was coming, for he had him- 
self seen him making his way to the town, bearing 
on his shoulder a stone almost big enough to bury 
the place under it. He reported that the devil was 
yet a long way off, for his load hampered him sadly 
and he could not travel fast. 

What to do the councillors did not know, when 
suddenly there came amongst them a poor cobbler, 
whom they had forgot to call to the meeting, for 
he was, indeed, looked upon as only half-witted. 

"I will go and meet him," said he, "and stop 
him coming here." 

" You stop him ! " cried they all ; " it 's mad you 
must be to think of it." 

"I'll go all the same," said the cobbler, and 
without saying a word more he goes out and begins 
to make ready for his journey. 

First of all he collected together as many old 
boots and shoes as he could find, and when he had 
got them all in a bundle, he finds out the man who 
had seen the devil coming on, and inquired of him 


the way he should go to meet hiin. The man told 
him the road, and the cobbler set out. He walked, 
and walked, and walked, till at last he came to the 
devil, who was sitting by the roadside resting him- 
self and trying to get cool, for the day was warm, 
and he was nearly worn out with carrying the big 
rock which lay beside him. 

" Do you know such-and-such a place % " asks 
he of the man, naming the town he would be at. 

"I do, indeed," says the man, "for I ought to, 
seeing I have lived in its neighbourhood these many 
years, and have only left there to travel here." 

"And how many days have you been getting 
here ? " asked the devil anxiously, for he had hoped 
he was near the end of his journey. 

"Oh, days and days," replies the man. "See 
here," and he opens his bundle of old boots that he 
had ready, — " see here," says he, " these are the boots 
I Ve worn out on the hard road in coming from the 
place here." 

" Have you, indeed ! " says the devil, looking at 
them amazed, little thinking that the man was 
lying as he showed him pair after pair, all in holes 
and shreds. " Well, indeed, it must be a long way 
off," and he looks around him, and then at the rock, 
and thinks what a terrible long way he has had to 
bring it, and begins to doubt whether, after all, since 
he 's still got so far to go, it 's worth all the trouble. 

" If it had been near," says he, " it would have 


been a different thing, and I would have shown 
them what it is to treat me as they did, but as it 's 
so far off it 's another matter, and I don't think it 's 
worth the trouble." 

So he just takes up the rock and flings it aside 
in a field, and goes off back again. So the cobbler 
came home, and told all the townsfolk what he had 
done, and how he had cheated the devil, and I can 
assure you that they all admired his cleverness, and 
the joke of tricking the devil as he had, nor did 
they allow him to lose in consequence of missing 
his day's work. 


An old witch in days of yore lived in the neighbour- 
hood of Tavistock, and whenever she wanted money 
she would assume the shape of a hare, and would 
send out her grandson to tell a certain huntsman, 
who lived hard by, that he had seen a hare sitting 
at such a particular spot, for which he always re- 
ceived the reward of sixpence. After this deception 
had been practised many times, the dogs turned out* 
the hare pursued, often seen but never caught, a 
sportsman of the party began to suspect " that the 
devil was in the dance," and there would be no end 
to it. The matter was discussed, a justice con- 
sulted, and a clergyman to boot, and it was thought 
that however clever the devil might be, law and 
church combined would be more than a match for 
him. It was therefore agreed that, as the boy was 
singularly regular in the hour at which he came to 
announce the sight of the hare, all should be in 
readiness for a start the instant such information 
was given, and a neighbour of the witch, nothing 
friendly to her, promised to let the parties know 
directly that the old woman and her grandson left 



the cottage ancl went off together, the one to be 
hunted, and the other to set on the hunt. 

The news came, the hounds were unkennelled, 
and huntsmen and sportsmen set off with surprising 
speed. The witch, now a hare, and her little col- 
league in iniquity, did not expect so very speedy a 
turn out, so that the game was pursued at a 
desperate rate, and the boy, forgetting himself in 
a moment of alarm, was heard to exclaim — 

" Run, granny, run ; run for your life ! " 

At last the pursuers lost the hare, and she once 
more got safe into the cottage by a little hole in the 
bottom of the door, but not large enough to admit a 
hound in chase. The huntsman and the squires, with 
their train, lent a hand to break open the door, but 
could not do it till the parson and the justice came 
up, but as law and church were certainly designed 
to break through iniquity, even so did they now 
succeed in bursting the magic bonds that op- 
posed them. Up-stairs they all went. There they 
found the old hag, bleeding and covered with wounds, 
and still out of breath. She denied she was a hare, 
and railed at the whole party. 

" Call up the hounds," said the huntsman, " and 
let us see what they take her to be. Maybe we 
may yet have another hunt." 

On hearing this, the old woman cried quarter. 
The boy dropped on his knees and begged hard for 
mercy. Mercy was granted on condition of its being 


received with a good whipping, and the huntsman, 
having long practised amongst the hounds, now tried 
his hand on their game. Thus the old woman 
escaped a worse fate for the time being, but on being 
afterwards put on trial for bewitching a young 
woman, and making her spit pins, the above was 
given as evidence against her, and the old woman 
finished her days, like a martyr, at the stake. 


The young heir of Lambton led a dissolute and evil 
course of life, equally regardless of the obligations of 
his high estate, and the sacred duties of religion. 
According to his profane custom, he was fishing on 
a Sunday, and threw his line into the river to catch 
fish, at a time when all good men should have been 
engaged in the solemn observance of the day. After 
having toiled in vain for some time, he vented his 
disappointment at his ill success, in curses loud and 
deep, to the great scandal of all who heard him, on 
their way to Holy Mass, and to the manifest peril 
of his own soul. 

At length he felt something extraordinary tugging 
at his line, and, in the hope of catching a large fish, 
he drew it up with the utmost skill and care, yet it 
required all his strength to bring the expected fish 
to land. 

What was his surprise and mortification, when, 
instead of a fish, he found that he had only caught 
a worm of most unseemly and disgusting appearance. 
He hastily tore it from his hook and threw it into a 
well hard by. 



He again threw in his line, and continued to fish, 
when a stranger of venerable appearance, passing by, 
asked him — 

" What sport ?" 

To which he replied — 

" I think I've caught the devil ; " and directed the 
inquirer to look into the well. 

The stranger saw the worm, and remarked that 
he had never seen the like of it before — that it was 
like an eft, but that it had nine holes on each side 
of its mouth, and tokened no good. 

The worm remained neglected in the well, but 
soon grew so large that it became necessary to seek 
another abode. It usually lay in the day-time coiled 
round a rock in the middle of the river, and at night 
frequented a neighbouring hill, twining itself around 
the base ; and it continued to increase in length 
until it could lap itself three times around the hill. 

It now became the terror of the neighbourhood, 
devouring lambs, sucking the cow's milk, and com- 
mitting every species of injury on the cattle of the 
affrighted peasantry. 

The immediate neighbourhood was soon laid waste, 
and the worm, finding no further support on the 
north side of the river, crossed the stream towards 
Lambton Hall, where the old lord was then living 
in grief and sorrow, the young heir of Lambton 
having repented him of his former sins, and gone to 
the wars in a far distant land. 


The terrified household assembled in council, and 
it was proposed by the stewart, a man far advanced 
in years and of great experience, that the large 
trough which stood in the courtyard should be filled 
with milk. The monster approached and, eagerly 
drinking the milk, returned without inflicting further 
injury, to repose around its favourite hill. 

The worm returned the next morning, crossing 
the stream at the same hour, and directing its way 
to the hall. The quantity of milk to be provided 
was soon found to be the product of nine cows, and 
if any portion short of this quantity was neglected 
or forgotten the worm showed the most violent signs 
of rage, by lashing its tail around the trees in the 
park, and tearing them up by the roots. 

Many a gallant knight of undoubted fame and 
prowess sought to slay this monster which was the 
terror of the whole country side, and it is related that 
in these mortal combats, although the worm had been 
frequently cut asunder, yet the several parts had 
immediately reunited, and the valiant assailant never 
escaped without the loss of life or limb, so that, after 
many fruitless and fatal attempts to destroy the 
worm, it remained, at length, in tranquil possession 
of its favourite hill — all men fearing to encounter so 
deadly an enemy. 

At length, after seven long years, the gallant heir 
of Lambton returned from the wars of Christendom, 
and found the broad lands of his ancestors laid waste 


and desolate. He heard the wailings of the people, 
for their hearts were filled with terror and alarm. 
He hastened to the hall of his ancestors, and received 
the embraces of his aged father, worn out with 
sorrow and grief, both for the absence of his son, 
whom he had considered dead, and for the dreadful 
waste inflicted on his fair domain by the devastations 
of the worm. 

He took no rest until he crossed the river to ex- 
amine the worm, as it lay coiled around the base of 
the hill, and being a knight of tried valour and sound 
discretion, and hearing the fate of all those who had 
fallen in the strife, he consulted a Sibyl on the best 
means to be pursued to slay the monster. 

He was told that he himself had been the cause 
of all the misery which had been brought upon the 
country, which inceased his grief and strengthened 
his resolution. He was also told that he must have 
his best suit of mail studded with spear-blades, and, 
taking his stand on the rock in the middle of the 
river, commend himself to Providence and the might 
of his sword, first making a solemn vow, if success- 
ful, to slay the first living thing he met, or, if he 
failed to do so, the Lords of Lambton for nine 
generations would never die in their beds. 

He made the solemn vow in the chapel of his 
forefathers, and had his coat studded with the blades 
of the sharpest spears. He took his stand on the 
rock in the middle of the river, and unsheathing his 


trusty sword, which had never failed him in time 
of need, he commended himself to the will of Provi- 

At the accustomed hour the worm uncoiled its 
lengthened folds, and, leaving the hill, took its usual 
course towards Lambton Hall, and approached the 
rock where it sometimes reposed. The knight, 
nothing dismayed, struck the monster on the head 
with all his might and main, but without producing 
any other visible effect than irritating and vexing the 
worm, which, closing on the knight, clasped its 
frightful coils around him, and endeavoured to 
strangle him in its poisonous embrace. 

The knight was, however, provided against this 
dangerous extremity, for, the more closely he was 
pressed by the worm, the more deadly were the 
wounds inflicted by his coat of spear-blades, until 
the river ran with gore. 

The strength of the worm diminished as its efforts 
increased to destroy the knight, who, seizing a 
favourable opportunity, made such a good use of his 
sword that he cut the monster in two. The severed 
part was immediately carried away by the current, 
and the worm, being thus unable to reunite itself, 
was, after a long and desperate conflict, destroyed by 
the gallantry and courage of the knight of Lambton. 

The afflicted household were devoutly engaged 
in prayer during the combat, but on the fortunate 
issue, the knight, according to promise, blew a blast 


on his bugle to assure his father of his safety, and 
that he might let loose his favourite hound which 
was destined to be the sacrifice. The aged father, 
forgetting everything but his parental feelings, rushed 
forward to embrace his son. 

When the knight beheld his father he was over- 
whelmed with grief. He could not raise his arm 
against his parent, but, hoping that his vow might 
be accomplished, and the curse averted by destroying 
the next living thing he met, he blew another blast 
on his bugle. 

His favourite hound broke loose and bounded to 
receive his caresses, when the gallant knight, with 
grief and reluctance, once more drew his sword, 
still reeking with the gore of the monster, and 
plunged it into the heart of his faithful companion. 
But in vain — the prediction was fulfilled, and the 
Sibyl's curse pressed heavily on the house of Lamb- 
ton for nine generations. 


An old woman was sweeping her house, and she 
found a crooked sixpence. 

" What," says she, " shall I do with this sixpence ? 
I will go to the market and buy a pig with it." 

She went; and as she was coming home she 
came to a stile. Now the pig would not go over 
the stile. The woman went on a little further and 
met a dog — 

"Dog," said she, "bite pig. Piggy won't go 
over the stile, and I shan't get home to-night." 

But the dog would not bite the pig. The woman 
went on a little further, and she met a stick. 

"Stick," said she, "beat dog. Dog won't bite 
pig, piggy won't go over stile, and I shan't get home 

But the stick would not. The woman went on 
a little further, and she met a fire. 

" Fire," said she, " burn stick. Stick won't beat 
dog, dog won't bite pig, piggy won't go over the 
stile, and I shan't get home to-night." 



But the fire would not. The woman went on a 
little further and she met some water. 

" Water," said she, " quench fire. Fire won't burn 
stick, stick won't beat dog," etc. 

But the water would not. The woman went on 
a little further, and she met an ox. 

" Ox," said she, "drink water. Water won't quench 
fire," etc. 

But the ox would not. The woman went on 
again, and she met a butcher. 

"Butcher," said she, "kill ox. Ox won't drink 
water," etc. 

But the butcher would not. The woman went 
on a little further, and met a rope. 

" Rope," said she, " hang butcher. Butcher won't 
kill ox," etc. 

But the rope would not. Again the woman went 
on, and she met a rat. 

" Rat," said she, " gnaw rope. Rope won't hang 
butcher," etc. 

But the rat would not. The woman went on a 
little further, and met a cat. 

" Cat," said she, " kill rat. Rat won't gnaw rope," 

" Oh," said the cat, " I will kill the rat if you 
will fetch me a basin of milk from the cow over 

The old woman went to the cow and asked her 
to let her have some milk for the cat. 


"No," said the cow; "I will let you have no 
milk unless you bring me a mouthful of hay from 
yonder stack." 

Away went the old woman to the stack and 
fetched the hay and gave it to the cow. Then the 
cow gave her some milk, and the old woman took 
it to the cat. 

When the cat had lapped the milk, the cat began 
to kill the rat, the rat began to gnaw the rope, the 
rope began to hang the butcher, the butcher began 
to kill the ox, the ox began to drink the water, the 
water began to quench the fire, the fire began to burn 
the stick, the stick began to beat the dog, the dog 
began to bite the pig, and piggy, in a fright, jumped 
over the stile, and so, after all, the old woman got 
safe home that night. 


A boggart intruded himself, upon what pretext or 
by what authority is unknown, into the house of a 
quiet, inoffensive, and laborious farmer ; and, when 
once it had taken possession, it disputed the right 
of domicile with the legal mortal tenant, in a very 
unneighbourly and arbitrary manner. In particular, 
it seemed to have a great aversion to children. As 
there is no point on which a parent feels more 
acutely than that of the maltreatment of his off- 
spring, the feelings of the father, and more parti- 
cularly of his good dame, were daily, ay, and nightly, 
harrowed up by the malice of this malignant and 
invisible boggart (a boggart is seldom visible to the 
human eye, though it is frequently seen by cattle, 
particularly by horses, and then they are said to 
" take the boggle," a Yorkshireism for a shying horse). 
The children's bread and butter would be snatched 
away, or their porringers of bread and milk would 
be dashed down by an invisible hand ; or if they 
were left alone for a few minutes, they were sure 
to be found screaming with terror on the return 
of the parents, like the farmer's children in the tale 

English. M 


of the Field of Terror, whom the " drudging goblin " 
used to torment and frighten when he was left alone 
with them. 

The stairs led up from the kitchen ; a partition 
of boards covered the ends of the steps, and formed 
a closet beneath the staircase ; a large round knot 
was accidentally displaced from one of the boards of 
this partition. One day the farmer's youngest boy 
was playing with the shoe-horn, and, as children 
will do, he stuck the horn into this knot-hole. 
Whether the aperture had been found by the bog- 
gart as a peep-hole to watch the motions of the 
family, or whether he wished to amuse himself, is 
uncertain, but sure it is the horn was thrown back 
with surprising precision at the head of the child. 
It was found that as often as the horn was replaced 
in the hole, so surely it was ejected with a straight 
aim at the offender's head. Time at length made 
familiar this wonderful occurrence, and that which at 
the first was regarded with terror, became at length 
a kind of amusement with the more thoughtless and 
daring of the family. Often was the horn slipped 
slyly into the hole, and the boggart never failed to 
dart it out at the head of one or the other, but 
most commonly he or she who placed it there was 
the mark at which the invisible foe launched the 
offending horn. They used to call this, in their 
provincial dialect, "laking wit boggart/' le., playing 
with the boggart. As if enraged at these liberties 


taken with his boggartship, the goblin commenced 
a series of night disturbances. Heavy steps, as of 
a person in wooden clogs, were often heard clattering 
down the stairs in the dead hour of darkness, and 
the pewter and earthen dishes appeared to be dashed 
on the kitchen floor, though, in the morning, all 
were found uninjured on their respective shelves. 

The children were chiefly marked out as objects 
of dislike by their unearthly tormenter. The curtains 
of their beds would be violently pulled backward 
and forward. Anon, a heavy weight, as of a human 
being, would press them nearly to suffocation. They 
would then scream out for their "daddy" and 
"mammy," who occupied the adjoining room, and 
thus the whole family was disturbed night after 
night. Things could not long go on after this 
fashion. The farmer and his good dame resolved 
to leave a place where they had not the least 
shadow of rest or comfort. 

The farmer, whose name was George Gilbertson, 
was following, with his wife and family, the last load 
of furniture, when they met a neighbouring farmer, 
whose name was John Marshall, between whom and 
the unhappy tenant the following colloquy took 
place — 

" Well, George, and soa you 're leaving t' ould 
hoose at last ? " 

" Heigh, Johnny, ma lad, I 'm forc'd till it, for 
that boggart torments us soa we can neither rest 


neet nor day for 't. It seems loike to have such a 
malice again' t poor bairns. It ommost kills my 
poor dame here at thoughts on 't, and soa, ye see, 
we 're forc'd to flitt like. ,> 

He had got thus far in his complaint when, behold ! 
a shrill voice, from a deep upright churn, called 
out — 

" Ay, ay, George, we 're flitting, you see." 

" Confound thee," says the poor farmer, "if I'd 
known thou 'd been there I wadn't ha stirrid a peg. 
Nay, nay, it 's to na use, Mally," turning to his wife, 
" we may as weel turn back again to t' ould hoose, 
as be tormented in another that's not sa con- 

They are said to have turned back, but the 
boggart and they afterwards came to a better under- 
standing, though it long continued its trick of 
shooting the horn from the knot-hole. 


The following encounters with the duergar, a species 
of mischievous elves, are said to have taken place 
on Simonside Hills, a mountainous district between 
Rothbury and Elsdon in Northumberland. 

A person well acquainted with the locality went 
out one night to amuse himself with the pranks of 
these mysterious beings. When he had wandered 
a considerable time, he shouted loudly — 

" Tint ! tint ! " and a light appeared before him, 
like a burning candle in the window of a shepherd's 
cottage. Thither, with great caution, he bent his 
steps, and speedily approached a deep slough, from 
whence a quantity of moss or peat had been ex- 
cavated, and which was now filled with mud and 
water. Into this he threw a piece of turf which he 
raised at his feet, and when the sound of the splash 
echoed throughout the surrounding stillness, the 
decoying light was extinguished. The adventurer 
retraced his steps, overjoyed at his dexterity in 
outwitting the fiendish imps, and in a moment of 
exultation, as if he held all the powers of darkness 



in defiance, he again cried to the full extent of his 
voice — 

"Tint! tint!" 

His egotism subsided, however, more quickly 
than it arose, when he observed three of the little 
demons, with hideous visages, approach him, carrying 
torches in thsir diminutive hands, as if they wished 
to inspect the figure of their enemy. He now 
betook himself to the speed of his heels for safety, 
but found that an innumerable multitude of the 
same species were gathering round him, each with a 
torch in one hand and a short club in the other, 
which they brandished with such gestures, as if they 
were resolved to oppose his flight, and drive him 
back into the morass. Like a knight of romance 
he charged with his oaken staff the foremost of his 
foes, striking them, as it seemed, to the earth, for they 
disappeared, but his offensive weapon encountered 
in its descent no substance of flesh or bone, and 
beyond its sweep the demons appeared to augment 
both 'in size and number. On witnessing so much 
of the unearthly, his heart failed him. He sank 
down in a state of stupor, nor was he himself again 
till the gray light of the morning dispersed his 
unhallowed opponents, and revealed before him the 
direct way to his own dwelling. 

Another time, a traveller, wandering over these 
mountain solitudes, had the misfortune to be 
benighted, and, perceiving near him a glimmering 


light, he hastened thither and found what appeared 
to be a hut, on the floor of which, between two 
rough, gray stones, the embers of. a fire, which had 
been supplied with wood, were still glowing and 
unconsumed. He entered, and the impression on 
his mind was that the place had been deserted an 
hour or two previously by gipsies, for on one side 
lay a couple of old gate-posts ready to be split up 
for fuel, and a quantity of refuse brush-wood, such 
as is left from besom making, was strewn upon the 
floor. With this material he trimmed the fire, and 
had just seated himself on one of the stones, when 
a diminutive figure in human shape, not higher than 
his knee, came waddling in at the door, and took 
possession of the other. The traveller, being ac- 
quainted with the manner in which things of this 
description ought to be regarded, retained his self- 
possession, kept his seat, and remained silent, know- 
ing that if he rose up or spoke, his danger would be 
redoubled, and as the flame blazed up he examined 
minutely the hollow eyes, the stern vindictive 
features, and the short, strong limbs, of the visitor 
before him. By degrees he perceived that the hut 
afforded little or no shelter from the cold night air, 
and as the energy of the fire subsided he lifted from 
the floor a piece of wood, broke it over his knee, 
and laid the fragments upon the red-hot embers. 
Whether this operation was regarded by his strange 
neighbour as a species of insult we cannot say, but 


the demon seized, as if in bitter mockery, one of the 
gate-posts, broke it likewise over its knee, and laid 
the pieces on the embers in the same manner. The 
other having no wish to witness a further display 
of such marvellous agency, thenceforth permitted 
the fire to die away, and kept his position in dark- 
ness and silence, till the fair dawn of returning day 
made him aware of the extreme danger to which he 
was exposed. He saw a quantity of white ashes 
before him, but the grim dwarfish intruder, with the 
roof and walls of the hut, were gone, and he himself, 
sat upon a stone, sure enough, but it formed one of 
the points of a deep, rugged precipice, over which 
the slightest inadvertent movement had been the 
means of dashing him to pieces. 


An honest Hampshire farmer was sore distressed by 
the nightly unsettling of his barn. However 
straightly, over night, he laid his sheaves on the 
threshing floor, for the application of the morning's 
flail, when morning came all was topsy-turvy, 
higgledy-piggledy, though the door remained locked, 
and there was no sign whatever of irregular entry. 

Resolved to find out who played him these 
mischievous pranks, Hodge couched himself one 
night deeply among the sheaves, and watched for 
the enemy. At length midnight arrived. The barn 
was illuminated as if by moonbeams of wonderful 
brightness, and through the keyhole came thousands 
of elves, the most diminutive that could be imagined. 
They immediately began their gambols among the 
straw, which was soon in the most admired disorder. 
Hodge wondered, but interfered not, but at last the 
supernatural thieves began to busy themselves in a 
way still less to his taste, for each elf set about 
conveying the crop away, a straw at a time, with 
astonishing activity and perseverance. The key- 
hole was still their port of egress and regress, and it 



resembled the aperture of a beehive, on a sunny day 
in June. The farmer was rather annoyed at seeing 
his grain vanish in this fashion, when one of the 
fairies, while hard at work, said to another, in the 
tiniest voice that ever was heard — 

" I weat ; you weat % " (I sweat ; do you sweat ]) 
Hodge could contain himself no longer. He 
leapt out, crying — 

" The deuce sweat ye ! Let me get among ye." 
The fairies all flew away so frightened that they 
never disturbed the barn any more. 


Immemorial tradition has asserted that King Arthur, 
his queen Guinevere, court of lords and ladies, and his 
hounds, were enchanted in some cave of the crags, 
or in a hall below the castle of Sewingshields, and 
would continue entranced there till some one should 
first blow a bugle-horn that lay on a table near the 
entrance into the hall, and then " with the sword of 
stone" cut a garter, also placed there beside it. But 
none had ever heard where the entrance to this en- 
chanted hall was, till a farmer at Sewingshields, 
about fifty years since, was sitting knitting on the 
ruins of the castle, and his clew fell and ran down- 
wards through a bush of briars and nettles, as he 
supposed, into a deep subterranean passage. Full 
in the faith that the entrance into King Arthur's 
hall was now discovered, he cleared the briary portal 
of its weeds and rubbish, and entering a vaulted 
passage, followed, in his darkling way, the web of his 
clew. The floor was infested with toads and lizards, 
and the dark wings of bats, disturbed by his un- 
hallowed intrusion, flitted fearfully around him. 
At length his sinking faith was strengthened by a 


dim, distant light, which, as he advanced, grew 
gradually lighter, till, all at once, he entered a vast 
and vaulted hall, in the centre of which a fire with- 
out fuel, from a broad crevice in the floor, blazed 
with a high and lambent flame, that showed all the 
carved walls and fretted roof, and the monarch and 
his queen and court reposing around in a theatre of 
thrones and costly couches. On the floor, beyond 
the fire, lay the faithful and deep-toned pack of 
thirty couple of hounds, and on the table, before it, 
the spell- dissolving horn, sword, and garter. The 
farmer reverently but firmly grasped the sword, and 
as he drew it leisurely from its rusty scabbard, the 
eyes of the monarch and his courtiers began to 
open, and they rose till they sat upright. He cut 
the garter, and, as the sword was being slowly 
sheathed, the spell assumed its ancient power, and 
they all gradually sank to rest, but not before the 
monarch lifted up his eyes and hands, and ex- 
claimed — 

" O woe betide that evil day 

On which this witless wight was born 
Who drew the sword — the garter cut, 

But never blew the bugle-horn." 

Of this favourite tradition, the most remarkable 
variation is respecting the place where the farmer 
descended. Some say that after the king's denun- 
ciation, terror brought on loss of memory, and the 
farmer was unable to give any correct account of 


his adventure, or the place where it occurred. All 
agree that Mrs. Spearman, the wife of another and 
more recent occupier of the estate, had a dream in 
which she saw a rich hoard of treasure among the 
ruins of the castle, and that for many days together 
she stood over workmen employed in searching for 
it, but without success. 

Another version of the story has less of "the 
pomp of sceptred state" than the preceding, and 
has evidently sprung from a baser original, but its 
verity is not the less to be depended upon. 

A shepherd one day, in quest of a strayed sheep 
on the crags, had his attention aroused by the scene 
around him assuming an appearance he had never 
before witnessed. There seemed to be about it a 
more than wonted vividness, and such a deep 
solemnity hung over its aspect, that its features 
became, as it were, palpably impressed upon his 
mind. "While he was musing upon this unexpected 
occurrence, his steps were arrested by a ball of 
thread. This he laid hold of, and, pursuing the 
path it pointed out, found it led into a cavern, in 
the recesses of which, as the guiding line used by 
miners in their explorations of devious passages, it 
appeared to lose itself. As he approached, he felt 
perforce constrained to follow the strange conductor, 
that had so marvellously come into his hands. After 
passing through a long and dreary vestibule, he en- 
tered into an apartment in the interior. An immense 


fire blazed on the hearth, and cast its broad flashes 
with a wild, unearthly glare, to the remotest corner 
of the chamber. Over it was placed a huge caldron, 
as if preparations were being made for a feast on an 
extensive scale. Two hounds lay couchant on either 
side of the fire-place, in the stillness of unbroken 
slumber. The only remarkable piece of furniture in 
the apartment was a table covered with green cloth. 
At the head of the table, a being, considerably ad- 
vanced in years, of a dignified mien, and clad in the 
habiliments of war, sat, as it were, fast asleep, in an 
arm-chair. At the other end of the table lay a horn 
and a sword. Notwithstanding these signs of life, 
there prevailed a dead silence throughout the cham- 
ber, the very feeling of which made the shepherd 
reflect that he had advanced far beyond the limits 
of human experience, and that he was now in the 
presence of objects that belonged more to death than 
to life. The very idea made his flesh creep. He, 
however, had sufficient fortitude to advance to the 
table and lift the horn. The hounds pricked up 
their ears most fearfully, and the grisly veteran 
started up on his elbow, and raising his half- 
unwilling eyes, told the staggered hind that if he 
would blow the horn and draw the sword, he would 
confer upon him the honours of knighthood to last 
through time. Such unheard-of dignities, from a 
source so ghastly, either met with no appreciation 
from the awe-stricken swain, or the terror of finding 


himself alone in the company, it might be of malig- 
nant phantoms, who were only tempting him to his 
ruin, became too urgent to be resisted, and, there- 
fore, proposing to divide the peril with a comrade, 
he groped his darkling way, as best his quaking 
limbs could support him, back to the blessed day- 
light. On his return, with a reinforcement of strength 
and courage, all traces of the former scene had dis- 
appeared. The crags presented their usual cheerful 
and quiet aspect, and every vestige of the opening 
of a cavern was obliterated. Thus failed another 
of the repeated opportunities for releasing the spell- 
bound king of Britain from the " charmed sleep of 
ages." Within his rocky chamber he still sleeps 
on, as tradition tells, till the appointed hour ; or if 
invited by his enchantress to participate in the 
illusions of the fairy festival, it has charms for him 
no longer. " Wasted with care," he sits beside her 
— the banquet untasted — the pageantry unmasked — 

" . . . By constraint 
Her guest, and from his native land withheld 
By sad necessity." 


About the commencement of the present century 
the inhabitants of the quiet village of Black Heddon, 
near Stamfordham, and of its vicinity, who lived, 
as most other villagers do, with all possible harmony 
amongst themselves, and relishing no more external 
disturbance than was consistent with their gentle 
and sequestered mode of existence, were dreadfully 
annoyed by the pranks of a preternatural being 
called Silky. This name it had obtained from its 
manifesting a marked predilection to make itself 
visible in the semblance of a female dressed in silk. 
Many a time, when one of the more timorous of the 
community had a night journey to perform, have 
they unawares and invisibly been dogged and 
watched by this spectral tormentor, who, at the 
dreariest part of the road — the most suitable for. 
thrilling surprises — would suddenly break forth in 
dazzling splendour. If the person happened to be 
on horseback, a sort of exercise for which she 
evinced a strong partiality, she would unexpectedly 
seat herself behind, "rattling in her silks." There, 
after enjoying a comfortable ride, with instantaneous 


SILKY. 193 

abruptness she would, like a thing destitute of con- 
tinuity, dissolve away and become incorporate with 
the nocturnal shades, leaving the bewildered horse- 
man in blank amazement. 

At Belsay, some two or three miles from Black 
Heddon, she had a favourite resort. This was a 
romantic crag finely studded with trees, under the 
gloomy umbrage of which, " like one forlorn," she 
loved to wander all the live-long night. Here often 
has the belated peasant, with awe-stricken vision, 
beheld her dimly through the sombre twilight as if 
engaged in splitting great stones, or hewing with 
many a repeated stroke some stately "monarch of 
the grove." While he thus stood and gazed, and 
listened to intimations, impossible to be misappre- 
hended, of the dread reality of that mysterious being, 
concerning whom so various conjectures were awake, 
all at once, excited by that wondrous agency, he 
would hear the howling of a resistless tempest rush- 
ing through the woodland — the branches creaking 
in violent concussion, or rent into pieces by the 
impetuous fury of the blast — while, to the eye, not 
a leaf was seen to quiver, or a pensile spray to 
bend. The bottom of this crag is washed by a 
picturesque lake or fish-pond, at whose outlet is a 
waterfall, over which a venerable tree, sweeping its 
leafy arms, adds impressiveness to the scene. Amid 
the complicated and contorted limbs of this tree, 
Silky possessed a rude chair, where she was wont, in 

English. N 


her moody moments, to sit — wind-rocked — enjoying 
the rustling of the storm in the dark woods, or the 
gush of the cascade. The tree, so consecrated in the 
sympathies and terrors of the people of the vicinity, 
has been preserved. Though now (1842) no longer 
tenanted by its aerial visitant, it yet spreads majes- 
tically its time -hallowed canopy over the spot, 
awakening in the love-versed rustic, when the 
winter's wind waves gusty and sonorous through its 
leafless boughs, the soul-harrowing recollection of 
the exploits of the ancient fay, — but in the spring- 
time, beautiful with the full-flushed verdure of that 
exuberant season, recipient of the kindling emotions 
of reverence and affection. It still bears the name 
of " Silky's seat," in memory of its once wonderful 

Silky exercised a marvellous influence over the 
brute creation. Horses, which indisputably possess 
a discernment of spirits superior to that of man, and 
are more sharp-sighted in the dark, were in an ex- 
traordinary degree sensitive of her presence and con- 
trol. Having once perceived the effects of her 
power she seems to have had a perverse pleasure 
in meddling with and arresting those poor defence- 
less animals, while engaged in the most exemplary 
performance of their labours. When this misfortune 
occurred there was no remedy that brute-force could 
devise. Expostulation, soothing, whipping, and 
kicking, were all exerted in vain to make the restive 

SILKY. 195 

beast resume the proper and Intended direction. • 
The ultimate resource, unless it might be the whim 
of Silky to revoke the spell, was the magic dispelling 
witch wood, which, it is satisfactory to learn, was of 
unfailing efficacy. One poor wight, a farm-servant, 
was once the selected victim of her mischievous 
frolics. He had to go to a colliery at some distance 
for coals, and it was late in the evening before he 
could return. Silky, with spirit-like prescience, 
having intimation of the circumstance, waylaid him 
at a bridge — a "ghastly, ghost-alluring edifice," 
since called "Silky's Brig," lying a little to the 
south of Black Heddon, on the road between that 
place and Stamfordham. Just as he had arrived at 
"the height of that bad eminence," the keystone, 
horses and cart became fixed and immovable as 
fate. In that melancholy plight might both man 
and horses have continued — quaking, and sweating, 
and paralysed — till the morning light had thrown 
around them its mantle of protection — had not a 
neighbour's servant come to the rescue, who oppor- 
tunely carried some of the potent witchwood 
(mountain- ash) about his person. On the arrival 
of this seasonable aid, the perplexed driver rallied 
his scattered senses, and the helpless animals, being 
duly seasoned after the fashion prescribed on such 
occasions, he had the heart-felt satisfaction of seeing 
them apply themselves, with the customary alacrity, 
to the draught. The charm was effectually over- 


come, and in a short time both the man and the 
coals reached home in safety. Ever afterwards, 
however, as long as he lived, he took the precaution 
of rendering himself spell-proof, by being furnished 
with a sufficient quantity of witchwood, being by 
no means disposed that Silky should a second 
time amuse herself at his expense and that of his 

She was wayward and capricious. Sometimes 
she installed herself in the office of that old familiar 
Lar — Brownie, but, with characteristic misdirection, 
in a manner exactly the reverse of that useful 
species of hobgoblin. Here it may be remarked 
that, throughout her disembodied career, she can 
scarcely be said to have performed one benevolent 
action for the sake of its moral qualities. She had, 
from first to last, a perpetual latent hankering for 
mischief, and gloried in withering surprises and un- 
foreseen movements. As is customary with that 
" sturdy fairy ," as she is designated by the great 
English Lexicographer, her works were performed 
at night, or between the hours of sunset and day- 
dawn. If the good old dames had thoroughly cleaned 
their houses, which country people make a practice 
of doing, especially on Saturdays, so that they may 
have a comfortable and decent appearance on the 
Sabbath-day, after they had retired to rest, Silky 
would silently turn everything topsy-turvy, and the 
morning presented a scene of indescribable confusion. 

SILKY. 197 

On the contrary, if the house had been left in a 
disorderly state, a plan which the folk generally 
found it best to adopt, everything would have been 
arranged with the greatest nicety. 

At length a term had arrived to her erratic course, 
and both she and the peaceably disposed inhabitants 
whom she disquieted obtained the repose so long 
mutually desired. She abruptly disappeared. It 
had long been surmised, by those who paid attention 
to those dark matters, that she was the troubled 
phantom of some person, who had died very 
miserable, in consequence of having great treasure, 
which, before being taken by her mortal agony, had 
not been disclosed, and on that account Silky could 
not rest in her grave. About the period referred to 
a domestic female servant being alone in one of the 
rooms of a house in Black Heddon, was frightfully 
alarmed by the ceiling above suddenly giving way, 
and from it there dropped, with a prodigious clash, 
something quite black, shapeless, and uncouth. The 
servant did not stop to scrutinise an object so 
hideous and startling, but fled to her mistress, 
screaming at the pitch of her voice — 

" The deevil 's in the house ! The deevil 's in the 
house ! He 's come through the ceiling ! " 

With this terrible announcement the whole family 
were speedily convoked, and great was the consterna- 
tion at the idea of the foe of mankind being amongst 
them in visible form. In this appalling extremity, 


a considerable time elapsed before any one could 
brace up courage to face the enemy, or be prevailed 
on to go and inspect the cause of their alarm. At 
last the mistress, who chanced to be the most stout- 
hearted, ventured into the room when, instead of 
the personage, on account of whom such awful 
apprehensions were entertained, a great dog or calf- 
skin lay on the floor, sufficiently black and uncomely, 
but filled with gold. 

After this Silky was never more heard or seen. 
Her destiny was accomplished, her spirit laid, and 
she now sleeps with her ancestors. 

Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to Her Majesty, 
at the Ediribxirgh University Press. 


October 1890. 


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